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British actor David Suchet

oleanna

Hersh Zeifman // York University, Toronto, 12 October 1993

In a recent talk with members of the Dramatists Guild in New York, David Mamet confessed that he had had serious misgivings about directing his play Oleanna , misgivings which turned out to be prophetic: his 1992 off-Broadway production was deeply flawed, skewing a text that Mamet had conceived of as a classically structured tragedy into melodrama. Despite the visual clue of two separate covers for the Playbill program;one featuring the seated figure of a man, the other the seated figure of a woman, each with a target inscribed on its chest; New York audiences repeatedly hissed a single ’"villain": Mamet’s production so insidiously manipulated audience sympathy that only the female character became the object of attack. As Carol, Rebecca Pidgeon was encouraged (or, at the very least, permitted) by Mamet to play the role as a frump and neurotic, with a peculiar singsong voice that rendered her an automaton. Who could possibly care anything for a robot especially when her antagonist possessed the boyish good looks and cornfed charm of the terminally affable William H. Macy?

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David Lister // The Independent, 1993

Man teaches girl. Man touches girl. Girl takes revenge. Men and women in the audience nearly come to blows.

David Mamet’s attack on political correctness, which opened at the Royal Court theatre last night, split the chattering classes by gender during its run in New York. Couples emerged screaming at each other and cancelled post-theatre dinners. One group of women reportedly tried to ’get’ the men who applauded when the exasperated lecturer does strike and kick the girl in the climax of this gripping play. Some men did indeed spontaneously applaud last night.

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