David Mamet has a birthday next week; he’ll be turning 69. Quite a grand old man of American letters. Playwright and screen writer, he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for Glengarry Glen Ross. The Sydney Theatre Company is currently presenting his 1988 play Speed-the-Plow. Mamet started his career in his home city of Chicago, establishing the St Nicholas Theatre Company which saw the first performances of a number of his plays including his break-through work American Buffalo. His is a most distinctive style of writing, distinctive to the point of becoming its own genre. Marked by repeated profanities and obscenities, the dialogue proceeds at a unique rhythm having a cumulative impact.
The STC is clearly expecting big things of this production, presenting it in the large Roslyn Packer Theatre at Walsh Bay. Star power should help; it features Rose Byrne, the remarkably successful & beautiful Sydney-born actress who has appeared in a string of Hollywood movies and US television series. Born in 1979, she was educated at Hunters Hill High School, ATYP and Sydney University, then at David Mamet’s Atlantic Theatre Company. She has resided in New York for a number of years. Set in Hollywood, the play concerning the difficulties of dealing with agents and producers may have particular resonance for the director Andrew Upton and his movie star wife. Mamet plays have often been star vehicles; Madonna made her Broadway debut in Speed-the- Plow.
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