What a weekend! David Sedaris on Friday night. And a play on Sunday afternoon. Following a pretty hectic week. With an even more hectic week to come, this week. Maybe I should double my vitamins. Don’t be surprised if I post a bit later in the morning in the next several days.
A friend of mine received the theatre tickets as a Christmas gift. And I was the beneficiary of her niece’s (and her hubby’s) generosity. Thanks, by the way. We went to see “RACE”, by David Mamet.
Very provocative. Very politically incorrect.
I had no idea what to expect. Usually I’d google it before hand, but this time I didn’t. My friend invited me, I accepted, I made note of the day and time in my calendar, and promptly put it out of my mind. I guess I was preoccupied.
If you’re not familiar with him (David Mamet), he’s an American author, playwright, screenwriter and film director. Some of his better known work includes The Postman Always Rings Twice, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Untouchables and Hannibal.
He’s won a Pulitzer Prize and has been nominated for both Tony awards and Oscars — twice each. His latest film, for HBO, is coming out shortly — or has just come out. It’s about Phil Spector and stars Al Pacino who, from what I’ve seen of the promos, has literally ‘become’ Spector. It’s eerie.
While his play, RACE, is just playing in Toronto now, it opened on Broadway in 2009; and played to mixed reviews. When I got home after seeing it, I checked; and it got mixed reviews here, as well. I don’t think it’s a flaw of the writing or the directing or the acting, even though the critics say it is. I think the subject matter just makes people uncomfortable.
We’re not too crazy about confronting the uglier side of human nature. Or our own, more specifically.
Speaking only for myself, I liked it a lot. Although, it certainly was heavy fare for a matinee, I must admit.
It’s ninety minutes long, without any intermissions. And a LOT of dialogue. A LOT of memorizing, let me tell you. Throughout the play we’re essentially in the boardroom of a law office. There are two partners. One is white (Jason Priestly) and one is black.
Yeah, this is a long way away from Beverly Hills 90210.
There’s also a black intern, a gal, who was hired by Jason Priestly’s character, against the wishes of the other partner.
They are meeting with a wealthy white man, who has been accused of raping a black girl. Having fired the lawyers he went to originally, he wants these two, to defend him. He insists he’s innocent. The intern thinks he’s guilty. The two partners say it really doesn’t matter, because guilty or not, he’s screwed because of the racial implications. The jury will be afraid to acquit him, because the black population will say, “Sure, a white man can rape a black woman and get away with it”.
Sadly, this is true. Still today.
Back and forth they go. Should they take the case, or shouldn’t they? If they can’t win, which they don’t think they can regardless of the guy’s innocence or guilt, what’s the point? What lawyer wants to lose? And the more they debate, the more they argue, the deeper they get into it, the more insights they uncover, the more you are forced to acknowledge the truth in the fiction. The more you are forced to acknowledge, this is not really fiction at all. The reality of life.
Like I said, the ugly side of human nature.
Eventually they are forced to take the case because the intern calls the DA’s office to request some information. This positioned them, legally, as the defendant’s lawyers. They were stuck. And this is where it got really interesting, at least for me. Because they started to build a defence. Their strategy. And, of course, because advertising is as much, if not more, about ‘strategy’ as it is about creative, I was all over it.
Believe it or not, they found something. They could prove the guy was, in fact, innocent. Something very significant was missing from the evidence. He WAS guilty of being a racist, he was innocent of this, particular crime. He had NOT raped the black girl.
No, that was not “the end”. The curtain did not fall. It was just the beginning of the end for the client. The real exploration into racism was just getting started.
If you get the chance to see RACE you should. Especially if you don’t have the stomach for it.