Speed-The-Plow’s Ari Cohen (left) and Jordan Pettle do their macho thing.
SPEED-THE-PLOW by David Mamet (Soulpepper) At the Yonge Centre. Runs to September 22. $51-$68, some rush and discounts. 416-866-8666. See listing. Rating: NNN
Even good actors can't save a so-so play. That's the lesson reinforced by Soulpepper's production of Speed-The-Plow, helmed by David Storch.
Bobby's just been promoted to head of production at a Hollywood studio thanks to his knack for producing shitty movies that put bums in seats.
When long-time colleague Charlie brings him a project that's box office gold - a major star's agreed to make an exploitative prison pic - they get ready to take it upstairs to be green-lighted.
Enter temp secretary Karen, who in the pivotal second scene convinces Bobby to make a prestige picture about radiation and the end of the world, sabotaging Charlie's plans.
Speed-The-Plow features Mamet's signature devices: searing satire (here of Tinseltown), great natural rhythms in the dialogue, macho men and a woman who's not what she seems. Except for a reference to TV Guide, the 25-year-old script isn't dated.
And the actors are terrific. Ari Cohen hides Bobby's vulnerabilities under his bravado and gruffness.
Jordan Pettle stays tightly wound as the guy now forced to suck up to his one-time partner. And Sarah Wilson almost makes you believe she could convince a major Hollywood player to repent.
But not quite, which is the problem with the play. It's all flash and, except for the guys' passion for profit, no emotional truth. Revel in the nastiness, groove on the dialogue and admire the cast, but this is middling Mamet.