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  Speed-the-Plow Reviews

American Theater Company
Thru - Oct 31, 2010

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American Theater Company

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
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Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...Speed-the-Plow is the better of the two scripts — I’d argue because it’s closer in spirit to Mamet’s Chicago-penned masterpieces. But then I’ve already lost the Goulds and Foxes with that bit of peripheral academese. Even the dumbest green-lighter, though, can understand that Mamet is always about the acting. “Speed-the-Plow” features the loving ministrations of Lance Baker, who nails a character smart enough to know that the gods of showbiz usually offer only one shot, and that no pain in life is more acute than seeing that opportunity slip out of your fingers. Boy, does Baker show us."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...Note to everyone else: Get yourself over to the American Theater Company, where Rick Snyder (the veteran Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member who has emerged as a director of extraordinary talent and profound insight), and his three phenomenal actors (Nicole Lowrance, Darrell W. Cox and Lance Baker), are battling their way through the most bitter, bruising, revelatory and wholly accomplished productions ever given these brash pursuit-of-power dramas. In addition, try to see these 75-minute works on the same day (they are running in rotating repertory), so that both their intriguingly complementary content, and the actors' brilliance, come fully into focus."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...If you're at all interested in how to think about Mamet and his plays, see both entries in the ATC rep. Each has its fascinations, each gets kick-ass treatment under Rick Snyder's direction—and, thanks to a nice bit of thematic curating, the two together provide a strong sense of the playwright's talents and preoccupations."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...Director Rick Snyder—an excellent actor-turned-excellent director—has put together three strong performers, especially Darrell W. Cox and Nicole Lowrance, who appear in both plays. Hair slicked back and oiled, Cox makes an imposing studio chief in Speed-the-Plow, a fast-talking Hollywood bull-shitter."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Copley News Service- Highly Recommended

"...The play allows Lance Baker to deliver a textbook performance in comic meltdown in the final act. Lowrance returns as Karen, a mystery woman. Karen is either a canny manipulator who wants to insinuate herself into the Hollywood power structure, or she genuinely sees her mission in life as elevating motion pictures into meaningful works of art."

Dan Zeff

Centerstage- Highly Recommended

"...Speedy and straight to the point without feeling rushed, the ATC repertory production of "Speed the Plow" pays homage to David Mamet's summation of American culture. The strong, three-person cast presents a brief but thoroughly engaging piece of theatre."

Marla Seidell

Chicago Stage Review- Highly Recommended

"...American Theatre Company’s extraordinary production of Speed-the-Plow is more than just a strong revival; it takes Mamet’s classic play and makes it a fresh, funny and fascinating triumph."
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Venus Zarris

Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"... Speed-the-Plow, a savage parable of film-industry deal making, feels as fresh today as on its debut. A town ruled by bullshit purveyors who rival Teach and Ricky Roma, Hollywood must have been a kind of hellish promised land for Mamet; it inspires him to new heights of gleeful sophistry in the exuberant scenes between bottom-feeding execs Bobby Gould (Cox) and Charlie Fox (Baker). Snyder and his actors stage their parries and thrusts masterfully, nailing the bebop phrasing of their connivances. Lowrance holds her own as temporary secretary Karen, championing a morose novel that thinly parodies the likes of Don DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy."
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John Beer

ChicagoCritic- Highly Recommended

"...David Mamet’s 1988 one act, Speed-the-Plow satirical dissection of the American movie business. Filled with rapid-fire and repetitious speech pasterns that became a Mamet trade mark, Speed-the-Plow features two linguistic marvels – Darrell W. Cox as Bobby Gould and Lance Baker as Charlie Fox. These two film producers have a star actor committed to the next action-packed blockbuster. The two extol their acumen as they celebrate their good fortune. When a beautiful idealistic secretary Karen (Nicole Lowrance) extols the virtues of an end-of-the-world novel to Bobby, he has an epiphany of sorts. Charlie has to intimate, guilt trip and brow-beat Bobby back to his greedy Hollywood producer self. The result is a funny, biting satire filled with razor-sharp dialogue as only Mamet can create."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Theater Beat- Recommended

"...Maybe the best part of the whole “repertory” concept is watching Cox switch from John’s loose sweaters and glasses to Bobby’s slicked-back hair and gold chains. The man obviously has a lot of fun with Gould’s skeeziness. Sitting at the top, Gould has no friends, only people who want to get stuff from him. Cox makes this clear throughout the play, through both jokes and breakdowns. He’s helped by Baker, who is great at conniving. Baker bounces around like he’s had far too much coffee, or maybe not enough. Cox keeps right up with him. Lowrance’s Karen is strikingly different than Carol—she’s way more flirtatious and paints her fingernails, although both women have a mousey timidity about them. The text calls for Lowrance to slow down the pace after the lightning rounds between Gould and Fox, but here it’s a bit too much. The second act, which features mostly monologues from Karen as she tries to communicate the effect the novel has on her, drags considerably. There’re a lot of big words, very little movement, and it just gets hard to follow after awhile. The pacing would probably be perfect for most other plays, but for Mamet it feels like a piggyback ride on a sloth."

Barry Eitel