Thursday night, my friend Sara and I went to an invitation-only dress rehearsal for David Mamet’s “Speed The Plow.” The show began with an introduction by director Neil Pepe informing the audience that there might be line calling and repeated scenes. As soon as the curtain went up, though, and the show’s stars took the stage, it seemed more like opening night.
“Speed The Plow” features three of today’s hottest actors -- recent Emmy winner Jeremy Piven of HBO‘s “Entourage,” Tony-nominated Raul Esparza of “Company” and Elisabeth Moss of AMC‘s “Mad Men." A scathing, fantastically witty commentary on the vagaries of moviemaking in Hollywood, “Speed The Plow” delivers sharp dialogue and riveting interplay between all three characters.
Esparza and Piven play producers hungry to deliver the next blockbuster to their Studio Head. When a script from an A-list director lands in the lap of Charlie Fox (Esparza), he knows it’s his shot at the big time. The catch -- he only has 24 hours to green light the project before his option on it expires.
Charlie’s long-time boss, newly-minted Head of Production Bobby Gould (Piven) assures him it’s a done deal and schedules a meeting with the Studio Head. That’s when we meet Karen (Moss), a sexy, seemingly naive secretary who turns Bobby’s head. Karen tries to sell Bobby on producing an apocalyptic bestseller about radiation instead of Charlie’s more bankable prison buddy script.
Mamet cleverly slips in a pointed political reference, as Bobby chides Karen for trying to break the Hollywood tradition of being driven by what sells.
“You want to be a maverick,” he says. “There’s no such thing as a maverick.”
After his evening with Karen, Bobby is thinking differently and Charlie’s ticket to the big time is suddenly on the line. Charlie reacts by having a meltdown, performed so brilliantly by Esparza that he pretty much steals the show. Piven proves why he’s an Emmy three-peater and Moss is convincing as a character who’s more than meets the eye.
“Speed The Plow” is smart playwriting at its best. The entire cast sails through the show’s brisk 80-minute running time, making it non-stop entertainment from start to finish. “Speed The Plow” opens October 23rd for a limited 20-week run. For more information, visit http://www.speedtheplowonbroadway.com/.