David Mamet’s probing examination of attitudes to race in modern America is here given an exemplary production by a South African company. The setting is the offices of a leading law firm which is being hired to defend a rich white man (Michael Gritten) who is accused of raping a black woman. Two partners, one black and one white (Peter Butler and Andre Jacobs) and their associate, a young black woman (Nondumiso Tembe), proceed to argue the issues of race which surround the case between themselves and with the accused. They play Devil’s Advocate to each other, ask questions to which it seems there are only wrong answers and conclude that a fair trial and a correct verdict will be impossible to achieve. The four performers get the staccato delivery of Mamet’s short, sharp lines just right and the arguments presented are fascinating, albeit sometimes confusing and maybe contradictory. However, the problem with this, as with some other Mamet plays, is that the characters are no more than mouthpieces for the writer’s thoughts and it is impossible to connect with them emotionally. The result is something more like an engrossing lecture than a drama.
Performance date: 10 August 2014