David Mamet’s ‘Race’ Comes To Richmond
The African-American Repertory Theatre is producing Race, a courtroom dramedy about ethics and, well, race. It’s been well received and should be a good show for those who enjoy fast-paced dialogue riddled with intense drama. It goes without saying that the show will make you think, but it will almost certainly make you laugh.
David Mamet has a reputation for pushing the envelope, and in a good way.
“I love David Mamet. His rapid-fire dialogue, his willingness to push boundaries and his dark humor have fascinated and intrigued me for decades,” said show producer Carol Piersol. “In Race, Mamet deals with relationships, sex, rape, the law, and of course, that illusive most taboo topic and four-letter word: Race.”
Director Bill Patton and an “all-star Richmond cast” bring the story of three lawyers trying to decide whether or not to represent a rich white man accused of assaulting a black woman. To say it is risqué in subject matter is debatable, as racial tensions have long been the subject of many works of fiction. However, it is certainly risqué in execution, as David Mamet’s style is as prevalent as ever, and is pretty much always pushing boundaries.
Rapid-fire dialogue, plus the lack of restraint necessary to really have a discussion on these issues makes for the same kind of conversational excitement as an Aaron Sorkin script, minus the political tiptoeing.
“I’ve done two Mamet’s before, but on this one I think he’s really done it.” Director Bill Patton said. Echoing some critic’s opinion, Patton says this is the best Mamet play yet. “It’s definitely the most challenging play I’ve ever done. He does his Mamet thing better than I think he’s ever done it.”
The play also takes on many textures, which is fairly unique for a shorter, conversation-driven play. The show is witty at first, and brilliant later on. Ben Brantley of The New York Times echoed this sentiment in a review of the Broadway version.
“‘Race,’ directed by its author, is a definite improvement on Mr. Mamet’s previous new work on Broadway, “November,” which last year presented Nathan Lane as a sitting American president who talked like a dirty sitcom. Though the first act of Race is similarly propelled by barbed one-liners, its second act offers reassuring evidence of Mr. Mamet’s scalpel-edged intelligence. And the issues it raises, particularly on the ethnic varieties of shame and the universal nature of guilt, should offer ample nutrition for many a post-theater dinner conversation.”
The show is only 90 minutes long, but Mamet seems like the kind of playwright that would use that time wisely. Known for his plot twists, sudden tempo changes and intense lines being dropped, the hour and a half should have as much content as some longer plays.
The Theatre Gym at the Virginia Rep Center, 114 W. Broad St. is hosting Race until the 21st. You can buy tickets here.
The University of Richmond continues to be a place where exciting projects benefit student and audience alike.November 21, 2016
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