Speed-The-Plow was written by the playwright David Mamet. This satirical play tackles the American movie business, which is driven by money and greed. Andrew Upton is the man in charge of this Sydney Theatre Company revival of Mamet’s funniest play. It is starred by Justified actor Damon Herriman, Offspring star Lachy Hulme, and the Golden Globe and Emmy nominee, Rose Byrne.
One of the themes that was dissected on Speed-The-Plow is career insecurity. Even if Mamet conceptualised the play during the 1980s, career insecurity is still an issue in the film industry today. Upton’s last hurrah in this theatrical work also covered moral epilepsy, which, believe it or not, is a Speed-The-Plow wow factor in Sydney for Sydney audiences love their moral epilepsy.
Speed-The-Plow Wow Factor in Sydney
Ever since being staged in 1988, Speed-The-Plow had five comebacks, including Upton’s version. That said, directing the play is both a boon and bane for Upton as he had to offer a new flavour to Mamet’s play. Critics believe that Speed-The-Plow should have confronted the misogyny that is ingrained both in the original play and in the film industry. Moreover, Upton could have used the chance and utilised Byrne’s character to call for real change against this chauvinistic world. But instead, he lingered with the misogyny that fuelled Mamet’s theatrical work.
Speed-The-Plow revolves around a studio executive named Bob Gould (Herriman), his colleague Charlie Fox (Hulme), and the naive temp secretary Karen (Byrne). The premise of the play is that Gould will choose between two film scripts that Gould will produce. The first one is an action film proposed by Fox, and the other one is an artsy drama championed by Karen. Will Gould push through with Fox’s bankable idea, or with the proposal of the beautiful and attractive temp secretary?
Probably the main Speed-The-Plow wow factor in Sydney of the play is Rose Byrne. Her acting skills surely did not disappoint the fans and the audience. With her extensive experience doing movies, Byrne managed to channel all of her characters to Karen. Being funny and naive worked well for her.
All in all, Upton did a good job directing the production. However, as the Daily Review puts it, “Speed-The-Plow does not have the sharpness it needs to succeed.” Some also criticised the set design, as it feels too claustrophobic, which certainly did not help in pulling the attention of the audience.
The actors did pull off a stellar performance and the production has a good script. But it failed to live up to the satire concept and instead, accepted the shocking attitudes embroiled in the play.