Hersh Zeifman // York University, Toronto, 12 October 1993
InÂ aÂ recent talk with members ofÂ the Dramatists Guild inÂ New York, David Mamet confessed that heÂ had had serious misgivings about directing his play Oleanna , misgivings which turned out toÂ beÂ prophetic: his 1992 off-Broadway production was deeply flawed, skewing aÂ text that Mamet had conceived ofÂ asÂ aÂ classically structured tragedy into melodrama. Despite the visual clue ofÂ two separate covers for the Playbill program;one featuring the seated figure ofÂ aÂ man, the other the seated figure ofÂ aÂ woman, each with aÂ target inscribed onÂ its chest; New York audiences repeatedly hissed aÂ single â€™"villain": Mametâ€™s production soÂ insidiously manipulated audience sympathy that only the female character became the object ofÂ attack. AsÂ Carol, Rebecca Pidgeon was encouraged (or, atÂ the very least, permitted) byÂ Mamet toÂ play the role asÂ aÂ frump and neurotic, with aÂ peculiar singsong voice that rendered her anÂ automaton. Who could possibly care anything for aÂ robot especially when her antagonist possessed the boyish good looks and cornfed charm ofÂ the terminally affable William H. Macy?