London: Lakeboat and Prairie du Chien: to May 7 2011.
Lakeboat and Prairie du Chien: David Mamet
24 Ashwin Street
1 hr 50 mins incl interval
Box Office: 020 7503 1646
Monday – Fridays from 10am – 6pm (advance tickets)
Saturdays from noon – 6pm (advance tickets)
Sundays – closed or Saturday hours on Event days (in person only)
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Tuesdays – `Pay what you can’ (from 6.30pm – subject to availability)
Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen Friday, April 15, 2011
Mamet the younger – recurring.David Mamet is now the grand old man of American and British theatre and film. Twice Oscar nominated for screenplays (The Verdict and Wag the Dog), Pulitzer prize winner with Glengarry Glen Ross, in the autumn, London will host his latest, The Anarchist, directed by none other than the present `wunderkind’ of British theatre, Rupert Goold.
But this spring we have samples of Mamet the younger – his first play, Lakeboat and the slightly later, Prairie du Chien. Both introduce us to recurring Mamet themes – male camaraderie, capitalism and gambling.
Lakeboat, semi-autobiographical and based on Mamet’s own experiences working the iron boats around Chicago as a young student, is a muscular account of the men he encountered distinguished by gruff sexism, independence of spirit, and devotion to guns and macho movie role models.
As always with Mamet, it’s the dialogue that grabs: taut, colloquial, expletive-filled.
In truth, it’s no more than a shaggy dog story having no particular narrative except to over-turn the initial rumour of the demise of one of the crew having been duped and possibly murdered by a good-time girl. It turns out not to be the case.
Prairie du Chien by contrast has been dubbed a ghost story.
Set on an overnight train rumbling along beside the Mississippi, two pairs of stories collide in a violent climax – the one involving two gamblers, the other a Storyteller recounting the murder and burning down of a barn by a farmer consumed with jealousy and guilt at his wife’s supposed affair with a black worker.
Abbey Wright’s production produces some powerful performances from her all male cast and Helen Goddard designs a brilliant backdrop that resembles both the metallic innards of a ship and railway carriage.
But Prairie du Chien, bathed in overall lighting, lacks tension whilst Nigel Cooke, dressed in the long coat and black hat of a mysterious stranger telling his tale to Ed Hughes’ anxious listener doesn’t weight his account with sufficient oddness or threat. Rory Keenan and Nigel Whitmey’s waist-coated cardsharpers, wreathed in cigar smoke, slapping the cards to the deck, however, are the real deal.
Joe: Nigel Cooke
Collins: Ed Hughes
Pierman: Chris Jarman
Fred: Rory Keenan
Fireman: Mark Lewis
Skippy: Roy Sampson
Dale: Steven Webb
Stan: Nigel Whitmey
Prairie du Chien:
The Storyteller: Nigel Cooke
The Listener: Ed Hughes
Porter: Chris Jarman
The Listener’s Son: William Jeffs
Gin Player: Rory Keenan
Card Dealer: Nigel Whitmey
Director: Abbey Wright
Designer: Helen Goddard
Lighting Designer: Emma Chapman
Assistant Lighting Designer: Josh Carr
Composer and Musician: Tristan Parkes
Sound Designer: Chris Barlow
Casting Director: Vicky Richardson
Assistant Director: Richard Fitch
Assistant Designer: Meredith Walsh
Education Director: Will Maynard
Consultant Composer: Michael Bunce
Dialect Coach: Tim Charrington
First performance of this production at Studio 2, Arcola Theatre, April 12, 2011.
Presented by Play Productions.