RACE, by David Mamet

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RACE, by David Mamet, was a superb production

RACE, by David Mamet, was a superb production. Mamet at the top of his game, a ruthless, unrelenting whack in the face, game. And it featured four actors rising to the challenge, all directed brilliantly by Kristen Coury, who knows what she’s doing!

You probably know the story about opening night of Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN. The actors behind the curtain when it came down, heard nothing.

No applause, no sounds of people getting up out of their seats, nothing. Backstage the conclusion was that the audience hated the play. But, they were wrong.

The audience was so moved, so stunned, so chastened, maybe, that silence was all they could manage. After a while, time that must have been endless for the cast, the audience burst into tumultuous applause, for a play that deserved it. One of the all time icons of contemporary American theater.

RACE, David Mamet’s play on stage at Gulfshore Playhouse had a similar stunning effect on the audience when the blackout ended the play. It was a superb production. Mamet at the top of his game, a ruthless, unrelenting whack in the face, game. And it featured four actors rising to the challenge, all directed brilliantly by Kristen Coury, who knows what she’s doing!

The play, done without intermission, takes place in a law office, run by two men, one white and one African-American, partners for some 20 years. They are considering taking on the case of a wealthy married man accused of raping a young African-American woman.

In the audience, you sit there going back and forth, taking sides, getting angry at the greed, the lies, the privilege of money, the pain, the ambition, the duplicity all the while being knocked on your skull by the issues surrounding racism and almost every other ism in this society. Everyone in that audience was confronted, because there are no escape clauses when you’re driven to look face to face with our biases about the issues surrounding race in our society. That’s Mamet’s title, of course.

Mamet spares no one. He doesn’t take sides, although the sheer rant and rage of his acerbic words, tells us he has feelings. The play has an enthralling grip on the audience. I won’t tell you more about the plot. I just want to urge you to go see it. I call it a play you must see. To walk in integrity in this day and age, there is no place to hide from the racism we are all part of. Mamet will turn any denial you have inside out. This is not a play for the feel-good, or those seeking light-hearted entertainment.

Instead, RACE demands a person deeply committed to theater, and especially to theater like DEATH OF A SALESMAN, theater that is demanding, confronting, and powerful. For that audience, this is a must-see evening.

I congratulate Gulfshore Playhouse for making it available to all of us. But, not just available, for Gulfshore has given us a magnificent gift. They’ve taken the risk, and we need to support them. The play runs until February 12 at the Norris Center. Matinees are at 3 pm on Wed., Sat. And Sun. Evenings at 8pm. Tickets (866) 811-4111, or the web. www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org.

 

January 30, 2012