Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Race

Play #127 - Race by David Mamet

First things first: I've clearly fallen far afield from the whole "read a play a day" goal I started the year with. But still... 127 isn't bad!

Okay - full disclosure: I hate David Mamet. But I have this title for a paper that I need to write about him... and the title is too good... so I HAVE to write the paper... even if it means reading a bunch of this gruff, cynical, testosterone. Honestly, the only thing worse would be if I were writing a paper about Neil Labute. Seriously... ugh.

Anyway... I read Race. The story revolves around two male lawyers and their female assistant/intern, as they try to decide whether to take on the defense of a middle aged white man who is accused of raping a young black woman. And, of course, the circumstances surround the case just get uglier and uglier with each passing moment. It seems that Charles, the defendant, came to them after leaving his previous firm, in no small part because Jack and Henry - the partners at this new firm - are white and black respectively. They are not blind to the racial complexities of the case, and they spend a lot of time trying to come up with exactly the right legal tactic to get Charles off the hook. Much of this conversation is complicated by the presence of their assistant Susan who is, herself, a young black woman. The discussions are characteristically crass and cruel as they reflect on the dark, dirty world we live in. There is a manufactured ambiguity about the ending that doesn't seem entirely successful to me, as I don't think the play has built in enough benefit of the doubt for us to buy into the uncertainty. And I don't think the social commentary is as incisive as he would like to think it is.

There are a few scenes and monologues that, for exactly the right, sharp-edged person, could be useful. But overall, I feel like I would be turned off listening to anyone say these things in an audition room or in a theatre. 

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