** Mamet's campus play is given a misconceived staging
Guy Masterson's production claims to revitalise the play, but moving it to England is a mistake, as is much of the stage "blocking".
Masterson is excellent, as a director and a performer, at studio naturalism. Unfortunately, and unusually for him, this show is in the Assembly Rooms' second biggest space, the Ballroom, and his director this time, Emma Lucia, has failed to adapt to it. As the lecturer accused of sexually harassing a student, Masterson delivers most of his lines at a volume where they get lost in the echoing acoustics of the room, a problem exacerbated by his delivering many of them upstage. In a smaller space, this would hardly be a problem; here, it cripples the production. Beth Fitzgerald as the edgy student is a much less able actor, with a voice that tends to shrillness and lessens our sympathy for her in a play that should be ambiguous on this score, but at least her lines are intelligible.
The other mistake is playing the piece in English accents. Mamet's particularly American speech patterns don't come out of it too badly, but the simple fact is that the ideological climate of teacher-student relations portrayed in the play has little or no basis on this side of the Atlantic. Interesting ideas, but sadly misfiring in every important respect.
Written for divento.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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