Theater Review: 'The Anarchist' -- 1 star

The Anarchist

The Anarchist (Credit: Patti LuPone and Debra Winger in David Mamet's "The Anarchist" on Broadway)

The Anarchist
1 star

 
What happened to David Mamet?
 
It’s hard to believe that the author of the Pulitzer-winning “Glengarry Glen Ross” and hard-hitting dramas like “Oleanna” and “Speed-the-Plow” could have penned “The Anarchist,” a painfully didactic all-female two-hander.
 
It’s impossible to avoid comparing “The Anarchist” with Mamet’s better works, especially because a starry revival of “Glengarry Glen Ross” is playing just a few feet away.
 
“The Anarchist” stars musical theater superstar Patti LuPone as Cathy, a lesbian and former political radical who has served 35 years in prison due to a botched robbery that ended in murder. Cathy is now attempting to persuade Ann, a no-nonsense warden played by Oscar nominee Debra Winger, to grant her parole.
 
This simple setup surely could have made for a volatile, confrontational drama. But the 70-minute play is little more than a meandering and academic debate that’s hard to follow. While I won’t spoil the ending, let’s just say that it’s quick, random and heavy-handed, much like the rest of the play. 
 
Based on their stiff, monotonic and restrained performances, one can’t help but wonder if Mamet, who directed the play himself in a spare and plain style, encouraged LuPone and Winger to hold back as much as possible, making the production even more of a bore. 
 
Will the real David Mamet please stand up?

Tags: Theater , The Anarchist , David Mamet , Matt Windman

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