Tag Archives: theater

New York: Love, Loss and What I Wore; Hamlet; Superior Donuts

Now that we’ve established that I missed A Steady Rain, what did I see and, more importantly, of what I saw, what should you see?


Love, Loss, and What I Wore

Unless you see or read everything Nora Ephron produces or are an Eileen-Fisher-wearing, lunch-date-having, Upper-West-Side-living woman over 55, you can probably miss Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

I’m in the former group, mostly because of her non-fiction – her early essays, to be more precise – and some because of When Harry Met Sally and My Blue Heaven. In the last several years, Ephron’s writing has become more specialized to her demographic group (I Feel Bad About My Neck), which is unfortunate for me since I’m 30 years younger than she is, and she’s been doing a lot more collaborating with her sister Delia, which usually spells disaster (Bewitched, Hanging Up). This play – more of a reading, really – is a combo My Demographic / Delia project.

Briefly, a woman wrote a little book for her daughter and granddaughter about defining moments in her life and illustrated it with drawings of what she was wearing at the time. It got picked up by a publisher. Nora and Delia got their hands on it, did a bunch of additional interviews with women and turned it into a five-woman show. The actresses sit on-stage and read/perform from the script.

A couple of the stories – not from the book – are touching or have some unexpected twists (breast cancer, same-sex marriage), and the cast (which switches out monthly) is high-quality enough to keep the audience’s attention, but I doubt it would have been produced without the Ephron name attached. It’s the kind of thing you go to with your aunt after you’ve had an overpriced lunch uptown. I was the youngest person – woman, actually: I think I saw two men – in the theater by, I’d bet, fifteen years.

At the West Side Theater Downstairs. Tickets. Through October 18th with Tyne Daly, Rosie O’Donnell, Samantha Bee, Natasha Lyonne, Katie Finneran. If you’re going to go, I’d go between October 21st and November 15th to catch Jane Lynch in the group.


I made a half-hearted effort see Michael Grandage’s (Frost/Nixon) production of Hamlet, starring Jude Law (co-interview here), in London over the summer but, predictably, it was sold out, presumably to nannies and models.


I’ve seen a lot of Hamlet, film and theater, but what’s one more? I was curious about how Jude Law’s charm would translate to a.) a Dane, and b.) a gloomy one, at that. His public shenanigans and the characters he picks (Alfie, Sky Captain, Dickie Greenleaf, Errol Flynn) share a self-absorption and good fortune that might make for an interesting Hamlet. That view was backed up by a quote he gave a reviewer about connecting with Hamlet because both he and Elsinore’s heir “know what it’s like to be misunderstood” or words to that effect, which betray both a lack of sophistication in managing the press and an adolescent sense of self, both of which Hamlet shares.

The production moved to Broadway last month (US interview and overview here), so off I went.

The word I’d use is “accessible.” Heavy on the crazy, light on the darkness, this is a good intro Hamlet. Not too much brooding, a lot of jumping around and an excellent reading of the text. Too often, even in practiced hands, antique language can slip by, passage after passage, with only the gist of the speech understood by half the audience. I’ve done the play: I’ve dug about with directors and dramaturges locating the original meanings of colloquialisms and out-of-use words, distinguishing them from the intentional enigmas of Hamlet’s madness. That comprehension can help an actor immeasurably, but it often stops there. The audience, unschooled, smiles and nods and misses out. Not so here. Well, not so for Hamlet’s part, anyway.

Law, flexible and agile, illustrates his words to very good effect, but something of Hamlet’s agony is lost with all the physicality. Who hasn’t read an article in Self or Men’s Fitness about how exercise improves the mood? Law’s Hamlet should, by rights, be surfing an endorphin high by the middle of Act I. Aside from that, time to think is at a minimum when Hamlet is manic, reducing the tragedy to the frame of, say, a runaway train rather than the more agonizing progress through layers of guilt, filial love, maternal betrayal, aimless youth, fate vs. intentionality, political position, and all the other issues more cerebral Hamlets contend with.

I can’t say I’ve seen the definitive Hamlet – is there one? – or even one I felt did all the angles justice. I dare say most people would agree, which is why the play is so obsessively produced. There’s no getting it all in. (If pressed, I’d say Kenneth Branagh’s uncut film comes closest to including all the angles, possibly because the text remained intact. Maybe because he had the best Horatio. Wish I’d seen Simon Russel Beale.)

So yes, it’s worth a viewing, although I’m not sure it’s worth $125. Take your teenagers or novice friends, if you have them.

Gertrude and Ophelia are unfortunately forgettable, as are Laertes and Horatio, and Peter Eyre as the Ghost/Player King delivers a truly awful performance in the worst tradition of classical theater – mumbling, rushing, overblown delivery in false stentorian tones – that grates disruptively against the accessibility of the rest of the production. Ron Cook as Polonius/the Gravedigger however is quite good, chipper and precise.

Donmar Warehouse production at the Broadhurst Theater, 235 West 44th Street, until December 6.

Superior Donuts

Tracy Letts’ new play, Superior Donuts, was never going to be August: Osage County, so it’s just as well he got it out of the way early.

For the record, August: Osage County is the best new play I’ve seen in my lifetime. I used to prevaricate on that point because it sounds like the kind of overstatement only idiots make, but, after further reflection, it is the fact of it so I’m going public with it. I went to Superior Donuts, then, as a general vote of support for Mr. Letts and knowing the play would be flawed. It’s just statistically unlikely you’d get two in a row and, as a working writer, I know it takes courage to plow ahead anyway. Write it, get it out there, move on.

Also, I have an irrational love of donuts.


The reason to see it is Jon Michael Hill. He plays France Wicks, the young, fast-talking black kid bringing new ideas to the aging donut shop run by Arthur Przybyszewski, played by Michael McKean. He’s the only reason to see it. He has the best lines, the best arc and delivers a performance that provides the play’s only heartbeat.

I was disappointed in McKean, but I’m pretty sure that’s a result of his limited options playing the tired, been there done that role of the aging hippie and his blah blah blah principles. I’m pretty well sick to death of the sixties and the self-righteous baby boomer ideals that all went to hell in the Reagan years anyway. Thank Oliver Stone, Tom Brokaw and the sheer volume – in numbers and noise – of that generation for talking so long and loud that there’s nothing interesting left to say about themselves and their awakening. I’m not clear what Letts was after in returning to that infertile ground.

What I can say for McKean is that he has almost teleportation level abilities to move around Manhattan. R and I ran into him on 73rd and Amsterdam not half an hour after the curtain came down. Of course, that’s not a reason to go see the play, but still impressive.

In sum, the play’s eminently missable, but I’m looking forward to the next one now that “The One After Osage” is sorted.

Music Box Theatre, 239 West 45th Street through, unbelievably and optimistically, March 28. Tickets here. Make sure you get the $49.50 deal.

New York: Me and Theater Tickets


I tried to scale back my manic theater-going schedule a bit this trip, after having marathon’d through far too many shows in far too few days the last time I was in New York. Five days. Three plays. Reasonable, right?

There’s this thing I do with tickets that’s very annoying. I know what plays are going up. I know which ones I will want to see. I know some of them are going to be popular and maybe sell out, so I…do nothing. The reviews come out, the general public joins the fray, some of the plays sell out and then I scramble to find seats. It’s like a twisted hobby I’ve adopted, like water skiing with one ski or kiteboarding with a bed sheet. Maybe it’s because I’m over-competitive and scoring seats doesn’t feel satisfying unless I’ve had to fight for them. Weird.

In this case, I’d had my sights set on A Steady Rain since the summer. Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in a new play by Keith Huff about two Chicago cops, a he said/he said drama.

Generally, I don’t like going to see shows with celebrities, especially ones without stage cred, because a.) they often suck, b.) I disagree, in principle, with giving plum roles to unqualified actors just so the producers can pay the Broadway bills (although I agree that bills need to be paid and, no, I don’t have an alternate suggestion), and c.) intermission is a hot mess of groupies misquoting the star’s latest movie and talking about how hot s/he is.

Lately though, there have been a number of serious plays produced featuring screen stars who do have backgrounds on the stage, so I’ve anted up. Waiting for Godot in London with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan this summer was excellent. The other Waiting for Godot in New York last spring with Nathan Lane and John Goodman was OK. God of Carnage with James Gandolfini, Hope Davis et al was a waste of time. Macbeth with Patrick Stewart in New York last year was unexpectedly weak. You win some, you lose some.

I wanted to see A Steady Rain on the strength of Daniel Craig, who had a successful stage career pre-Bond and is, by all accounts, very, very good. Hugh Jackman though is a wild card. He’s endearing, I’ll agree. Charming, yes. But he’s a musicals guy and that’s not usually a plus in a gritty drama. Plus, the play looked dubious and not up my alley, probably because I’m already saturated with CSI and Law & Order.

So I prevaricated on tickets. Our dates weren’t 100%. I tried to imagine Jackman, all bulked up from Wolverine, all smiles at the Oscars, toning it down for an intense tete-a-tete. I couldn’t. The show sold out.

Then, of course, I kicked into gear. I had to go. Tickets on eBay and Craigslist were going for $350-600. For a 90-minute, no-intermission show. Seriously? You would need to give me a Tony for that price. Or at least a full day at a spa with the massage administered by one of the stars. Maybe the three of us could get full-body waxes together.

I’ve had absurdly good luck scoring last-minute tickets this year, so I let it ride until we got to Manhattan. (Some research, some flexibility and a willingness to show up early and risk disappointment have yielded excellent results.) New York’s a busy place: someone was bound to have a scheduling conflict. Sure enough, face-value tickets for a matinee came up on Craigslist on Wednesday.

I didn’t buy them and I didn’t go.


Because Ben Brantley at the Times said exactly what I thought he might – weak play, weak Jackman, annoying audience. Because life is short and money’s tight. Because I’m perverse or edgy or just a New Yorker: when something’s wildly popular, it makes me want it less. Because life is short and I’m trying not to do any more things just to say that I did, just because they’re there just so I don’t theoretically regret not having done them.

So there.

Until next time, James Bond.

Mamet Update

I’m still mad at David Mamet in case you were wondering. He’s got two shows opening this fall at the Atlantic Theater Company.

Me: No way am I going. No way.
R: Why not?
Me: What?? Because of November.
R: That was one play.
Me: And because he turned into an NRA Republican freako.
R: The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

Whatever. I’m still not going.

New York: Exit the King

Exit the King by Eugene Ionesco, new translation by Neil Armfield and Geoffrey Rush, at the Barrymore Theater

This is quite possibly the only time in your life that you will ever want to have sex with Geoffrey Rush. He didn’t get all Wolverine-buff or have work done or anything. He’s still scattered looking and a little creepy intense. But praise Jesus is competence sexy. And this is beyond competence. This is take-me-now excellence.

You have to go. You must. I don’t care what excuse you have to give your Aunt Delia who’s in town for a weekend show, but scalp your Wicked tickets and go see some absurdist theater instead. She might even accept “celebrities” as a category trade-in for “endless mic’d singing about my feelings.”

The celebrities in question are Rush as the King, Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) turning in a very good histrionic performance as the King’s younger wife, Susan Sarandon anteing up a with an unconvincing offering as the original wife, and William Sadler whose resume you won’t remember but whose face you will (Die Hard II, suit-wearing villains on small and large screens) as the doctor.

I was disappointed with Sarandon. I’ve generally thought that she was better than her on-screen material, that she had an authority that would play well on-stage. Her work here doesn’t support either of those assumptions. She is definitely the weak link and Rush would have done better to cast someone with a stronger, weirder hand to match the rest of the performances.

The play is not easy. It’s absurd and bleak and funny (think Godot but with more running around) and about death, which is not a straightforward sell. Ionesco said, “I told myself that one could learn to die, that I could learn to die, that one can also help other people to die. This seems to me the most important thing we can do, since we’re all of us dying men who refuse to die. The play is an attempt at an apprenticeship in dying.”

Entertaining stuff, right? In point of fact, yes. Really. Rush is very, very funny and very, very good at it. He’s had the original production in Sydney and a run in London to perfect his performance and it’s a tour de force. Suffice to say that there’s a lot of dancing about interspersed with the pathos. See video clips here.

Rush and the director, Neil Armfield, did a new translation for this revival and it’s impossible not to see the relevance of the play today after eight years of criminally bad leadership (in this country anyway) and the popular obsession with self-expression (blog, anyone?) and with leaving your mark on the world. Sarandon’s uncertainty with the material undermines the crucial final path to the King’s demise and the text itself becomes more if-y and out of reach, but I’m not sure I could do better and I can’t imagine a better production, so plan for an evening of drinking afterwards and go see this one.

New York: The Norman Conquests, Table Manners, and God of Carnage

There are two plays up right now that have a look at the collapse of civility and standards in stressful domestic settings, a revival of The Norman Conquests trilogy, imported from a successful run in London, and God of Carnage, the newest play from Yasmina Reza, translated from the French for its Broadway debut.

Interestingly, they’re both directed by the same person, Matthew Warchus, which gives him a better than average chance of winning that Tony, since he’s two fifths of the five man field rather than just one. Good plan, Matt. Get the math on your side. That’s what I always say.

The Norman Conquests, Table Manners</strong, by Alan Ayckbourn at Circle in the Square. The trilogy part is tricky. Each play takes place in a different room of the house over the course of the same day with the same cast but can be seen independently. Table Manners is the one in the dining room.

In brief, a weekend with three sibling couples at their invalid mother’s country home. Norman hits on everyone.

Even briefer: Go.

This is the British half of my domestic disaster double bill and it’s the one to see. The British start from a position of repression, so devolution into their lesser selves still keeps them entertaining, interesting to watch, and above that Jerry Springer bar. You will not feel the need to drink heavily or never get married/immediately seek a divorce when you leave the theater.

Overall, I agree with everything the Times reviewer said, most prominently that this is not a brilliant trilogy of plays that can survive an American cast or a poor staging well, so this is the time to see it. It’s a great production with an outstanding British cast and you’ll like it even if you don’t much like theater.

The weak link, unfortunately, is the titular Norman (Stephen Mangan, inexplicably nominated for a Tony last week), but he’s more than made up for by Ben Miles and Paul Ritter who make brilliant business of being, respectively, wincingly awkward and hale fellow well met. Amanda Root (remember Persuasion?) is excellent as the worried, pushy wife trying to keep things on track and off the inevitable, dysfunctional rails.

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza at the Bernard Jacobs Theater

Full disclosure: I saw this at a Wednesday matinee, which is often a recipe for disaster because the audience is packed with can’t-sit-still, I’ve-been-dragged-here, don’t-you-love-gum? classes of teenagers to supplement the usual weekend matinee crowd of out-for-the-day, in-from-the-suburbs, lunching-with-friends, don’t-really-“get”-the-play ladies. (To whom, for the record, I am – when not sitting next to them and their comments – grateful for supporting live theater with their full-price tickets.)

Even allowing for the matinee distraction factor, I didn’t think much of the play. It’s been a successful and well-received production, but I chalk that up to the presence of screen stars (James Gandolfini, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden and Jeff Daniels) and Reza’s talk-show script, both of which make it highly accessible. Sadly, they don’t make it meaningful or even really very entertaining, unless, like my matinee crowd, a.) you have never before thought about the potential vacuousness of middle-class marriage and this play is therefore a revelation, or b.) you think profanity is hilarious.

Imagine Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? without the cleverness, the pathos or the dialogue. That’s God of Carnage. There’s nothing particularly tragic or even interesting about pretentious couples being mean to each other about nothing much. And by “mean”, I mean yelling and throwing tulips and saying nasty things about cell phones, which just isn’t that mean. Watching it was like overhearing a particularly vicious squabble in a restaurant: it’s uncomfortable, you’re embarrassed for the participants, but there doesn’t seem to be a point beyond a Seinfeld-ian, “What is the deal with people? Geesh!” No new ground, no hidden meaning, not even a buried skeleton.

I knew I’d like Hope Davis, and she did the best with the script of any of them, but I was disappointed with Gandolfini who I know has a range beyond Tony Soprano but has the diction of a drunk second grader, and Harden who seems to be having too much fun throwing herself around to be believably distraught. Maybe it all comes back to the script, but the production felt like everyone was waiting for the editor to fix all the sloppiness before the final print.

All of that said, there’s a silver lining to new plays of inferior quality being produced on Broadway: it makes success that much more realistic for the rest of us. Hooray mediocrity!

Getting By in New York

On one side of the argument, there’s the contention that New Yorkers are not friendly. On the other side is the reality that they are to friendly so shut up already.

I hear enough of the reality (in person, in print and in conversation) that I think the contention is actually a straw man standing in for the fact that New York, as a city of enormous physical size, can be intimidating for the newcomer. Also, New Yorkers can be aggressive, even with their friendliness. But I don’t see why you’d have a problem with that. Or why you would even bring it up. What’s the matter with you? Don’t you like friendly?

Last week was a case in point.

  1. Situation: Me at the Bernard Jacobs Theater half an hour before the performance starts. No tickets available, even though there were a ton that morning online. I stand in line with five or six other people (including someone I thought was Jon Tenney but just realized was actually Carlos Gomez) hoping someone cancels their seats.

    Woman with weird hair: Is this the line for tickets?
    Me: Yup.
    Woman: Are you alone?
    Me: Yup.
    Woman hands me a ticket for the first row of the mezzanine and walks away.

  2. Situation: Me at the Public Theater less than an hour before the performance starts.

    Me: Do you have any rush seats left?
    Dude behind the ticket window: How many do you need?
    Me: One.
    Dude: We have one. Last one. $20.
    Me: Sweet.

    Strictly speaking, this is math + luck, not New York being excellent, but you know, positive experience and all.

  3. Situation: I show up at Studio 54 at 9:45 in the morning, stand in line for 15 minutes and snag a seat for the newly opened, high profile, Tony-nominated Waiting for Godot for $21.65.

    Again, math + luck. I feel a pattern coming on.

  4. Situation: Me at the Barrymore Theater half an hour before Exit the King starts.

    Me: Could I get a seat somewhere in the middle range?
    Ticket dude: Well…[points to $116 seats in the mezzanine]…I can give you one of these for $74.50.
    Me: Yeah you can!

    (Looking at all this, I’m wondering about the whole showing up late = karma thing. That can’t be a healthy behavior re-enforcement, can it?)

  5. Situation: Me at JFK mid-panic attack. (I don’t like to fly or do anything associated with it, like be in an airport.)

    Me: Excuse me, where is the water fountain?
    Cleaning girl: Right there.
    Me: Thanks.
    Cleaning girl: You don’t want to drink that though. [Goes into her supply closet, pulls out a bottle of water which sells around the corner for about $97 and hands it to me.]
    Me: Wha…? Thanks!

New York is a wonderful town. Especially when you’re running late.

New York: The Theater Season of Spring 2009

It’s spring theater season in New York. I know, for most of you, this is a thrilling time. You break out your best dresses and can hardly sleep for the excitement. You planned for it six months ago, you have your seats booked for planes and in the orchestra (recession be damned!), and you can’t wait to get to Times Square to rub shoulders with all the sophisticates from around the world.

No? Really? You didn’t? You have no plans?? You don’t know what to see or who’s in it?? You’re not getting on a plane to New York just to catch a show? What?? You are not one of the eight people outside New York who watch the Tony Awards? Not possible! Are you being honest with me or are you putting me on??

Huh. Well, that hurts me a little. It pains me, I won’t deny it. But I’m here to help. Really. I saw everything. Nearly everything anyway. And I have things to say about even the things I didn’t see (naturally), so let me help.

Let’s get one thing clear right up front: I loathe musicals. I see them because R’s brother is an actor, a successful one and a good one, and he is sometimes in musicals and we love him, so I go. (See here, for Manoel’s latest.) Some of the voices are amazing. I can appreciate that. But all the stopping and dancing and singing about feelings gets in the way of the narrative and drives me batty. Which is to say that I didn’t see anything musical in New York, so if you’re looking for my thoughts on Shrek: The Musical or 9 to 5 (even though it does star Allison Janney), you’re out of luck.

Also, while we’re on the subject, let’s be clear about a couple of other things I can’t stand. Times Square and the tourists who crowd the sidewalks gawking at the things that are not cool about New York, the terrible restaurants up there, people who wear printed T-shirts to the theater, and the new trend of clapping at celebrities’ entrances and exits and speeches and so on as if they’re doing something above and beyond by just showing up.

There. I’m done. Now let’s move on.

New York: Why Torture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them


Why Torture Is Wrong and The People Who Love Them by Christopher Durang at the Public Theater

My evening with Christopher Durang started on a happy note: I scored the last rush ticket after tearing up from Washington, ditching my bags at the apartment and sprinting across town to get there.

It turns out that that rush ticket saved me more than $50. It saved me the pain of regretting spending an extra $50 to see what is, let’s be honest, a wildly uneven offering. David Mamet got away with bringing November to Broadway last year just on the strength of his name, and Durang’s following suit.

I can’t blame him. If I were famous and could get anything I doodled on a napkin published and produced, who’s to say I wouldn’t take advantage too? This is why you have to make honest friends before you get famous, so they’re there to tell you you’re writing garbage but that they love you anyway and you should go back to your desk and work for another month or so to tune your jokes and get it right.

The characters are supposed to be absurd, over-the-top stereotypes (the earnest daughter, the possible terrorist, the out of touch suburban mother, the rabid Republican dad, etc.) in an absurd, over-the top plot about (what else) torture in the Bush years, but, what with the script being so weak, everyone founders. Only one of the cast – Kristine Nielsen, a Durang favorite as the mom – is able to raise her performance above the script’s faults and be truly bizarre and entertaining. She made it worth the price of admission, but barely, and I wouldn’t recommend the show to anyone but a die-hard theater go-er.

(If you are a die hard theater go-er, by the way, you will enjoy the mother’s dumptruck of insider references to recent plays by other playwrights. The audience I went with did, as did I, but I knew while I was giggling knowingly that those kinds of references, like the political ones elsewhere in the play, have a short shelf life and a limited audience.)

To top off my disappointment, I did not run into Oskar Eustis (profile here), the artistic director of the Public. I like his hair and I have a crush on his steamroller energy, but no such luck. Not that I’d have had anything to say to him if I had seen him. I should come up with some cocktail patter for those situations. Like, “I love your hair. My, you are energetic!” Do you think that would work? If someone said that to me, I’d probably let them into my Emerging Playwrights program. Wouldn’t you?

Wintery Shakespeare

I just came from New York and saw precious little theater, mostly because I was a.) really disorganized (see leaving job), and b.) a bunch of shows were opening the day I left. Nice work. Thanks very much. Congratulations to me.

So, in the spirit of sharing wealth I don’t actually have, here are a couple of noteworthy productions you might want to catch if you’re on Manhattan in the snowy month of March.

First, go see A Winter’s Tale at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Here’s why: it’s one of the late romances (in with The Tempest and Cymbeline), a little rockier than your average Shakespeare fan is used to and therefore infrequently staged, so if you can find a halfway decent production (which it sounds like Mendes has produced here), you should seize the opportunity. Also, it’s winter.

A word of caution: Ethan Hawke is in it (albeit in a small part) and, in my experience (and, it sounds like, Ben Brantley‘s as well), his take on stage acting is to overdo it with bluster and spittle. God deliver us from slacker movie stars taking to the stage.

Theater for a New Audience has put up a production of Othello that sounds great. If you like that sort of thing. By which I mean men being morons over inconceivably angelic women. If you’re in the mood for jealous rage to thaw a snowy evening, this sounds like a great bet.

David Mamet and Me

mamet.jpgI have to get this off my chest before the election. I’ve been mad at David Mamet for a while now. I know I shouldn’t be: if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have won that playwriting award (twice). I can’t help it though. He’s disappointed me like if my oldest kid started coming home with F’s. No – like if Madeline Albright dropped states(wo)manship and took up juggling. No – that’s not right: juggling’s rough. Like if Madeline Albright took up hacky sacking. That’s what it’s like.

First there were the unfunny cartoons on the The Huffington Post. Diletantish but whatever. I got over it.

Then, in February, I made the mistake of going to see his new play, November, in its inaugural run on Broadway. It’s about an idiot president during his run for re-election. I ignored the mixed reviews and went because if there were ever a girl with a soft spot for Mamet, it’s me. I shouldn’t have ignored the reviews. It sucked. It was the worst thing I’ve seen in a long time. Was it really that bad? you may ask. Yes. Yes it was. Was it worse than the stuff I’ve seen at fringe festivals? Really? Honestly? Yes. Because, I expected more of him than his start-up brethren, that’s why.

In case I haven’t been clear, it was fucking terrible. It was glib, cheap and played to the worst of the audience. It said nothing important and it wasn’t even well-written. I cringed at every stupid, stupid punchline. If he weren’t David Mamet, it never would have made it to a reading, let alone the stage. (Of course, I’d like to be powerful enough to get whatever I write produced too, but with rights come responsibilities, David. Keep that in mind.)

Then, he published “Why I Am No Longer a ‘Brain-Dead Liberal‘” in the Village Voice in March. He went from being someone who shared my liberal political views – regulated freedom and shared burden – to being a free-market conservative. He posits that the marketplace will work itself out without any regulation, whether you define the marketplace as an economy, a theater of actors or a stranded bus and its passengers, to pick up two of his examples. Let ’em fight it out without the benefit of a director or a bus driver.

(On a side note, Mamet’s a big fan of guns, which adds a level of threat to the proceedings that doesn’t help his case with me.)

I think we all now know where unfettered free markets have gotten us. Even Alan Greenspan’s not on that sinking ship anymore. And God love him for being willing to admit his mistake. Mamet says in his piece that he’s a fan of changing your mind once corrected. Maybe, in light of the collapse of the free market system, Mamet will come around too.

I don’t know if the banality and populist humor of November were a result of Mamet’s free-market thinking, i.e. I can get away with writing beneath my talents because people will pay for it. I hope so. Because that means that if he does change his mind again, his writing will improve. And I would like that. I really would.