Mar 3, 2010

Archie S. Kaufman

I actually found the first act of Race kind of awesome. I enjoyed David Mamet's presidential farce November in much the same spirit: He may no longer be the same brilliant punk who gave us Glengarry and American Buffalo, but I have to say I like having this cranky/crafty old pro around; at his best, he's like some unholy hybrid of Archie Bunker and George S. Kaufman. The first scene of Race is excruciatingly stiff and expository, but the rest of that first act sang, to my ears, and Mamet does know how to bring down a curtain.

Alas, here he's playing for bigger game, and the second act turns into a painfully awkward conservative straw-man roleplay, rehearsing all the things he's wanted to say in arguments, real or imagined, with liberals on the subject of race. And though James Spader is generally excellent throughout, during one long lecture/scene opposite the one-note Kerry Washington, Spader's slightly pudgy build, blond hair, and sing-songy sarcasm actually put me in mind of Glenn Beck.

As a side note, David Alan Grier deserves a play to himself, maybe even one by Mamet (and having seen Grier in Forum years ago, I could actually see him rocking November).

Ulimately, my final grade for Race would be close to the median here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree, I really liked the first act of RACE, and the first part of the second act as well. The ending just came too abruptly and was a bit too contrived. Overall, though, I really found the play to be entertaining and discussion worthy after the show was over.

James Spader was is a film/TV actor that is a natural stage actor. I read that he had not done live theatre in over 25 years, what a shame because he is just that good. David Alan Grier is also very very good in the show, and the two of them together are a great reason to go see RACE.