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Review: MVT’s ‘Speed’ an engaging ride
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
Comical in some places, grimly realistic in others, Manoa Valley Theatre’s current production of David Mamet’s 1988-vintage drama “Speed-the-Plow” is gripping and engaging adult entertainment.
Presented by Manoa Valley Theatre
» Where: Manoa Valley Theatre, 2833 E. Manoa Rd.
While the show contains no nudity or explicit sexual situations as in, say, The Actors Group’s season-opening production of “Parallel Realities,” this is a Mamet play — the dialogue includes all but one of the words that can’t be printed here. Adults and teens who can handle the vocabulary will enjoy the twists and turns in the story, and the performances of three talented actors.
Bobby Gould (Tim Jeffryes) is the recently promoted head of production at a major Hollywood studio. Charlie Fox (Nicholas B. Gianforti), a long-time colleague and underling, comes into his office with big news: A major star who usually works with another studio wants to make to make a film with him. The film is a generic “black men in prison” action film and therefore certain to be a hit. Fox points out — and Gould agrees — that he could take the deal anywhere and be the producer of a blockbuster, but out of loyality to Gould has brought it to him.
Gould agrees that they should take it to the head of the studio and promises Fox that he will have a co-producer’s credit “above the title.” The head of the studio is out for the day so the big meeting is scheduled for the next morning.
They’re about to leave for a celebratory lunch when Gould mentions a book that he has agreed to give a “courtesy read” — film industry speak for taking a cursory look at something as a favor to someone — even though he has already decided that the book cannot be made into a commercially viable film.
The conversation turns to the temp (Julia Levanne) who is subbing for Gould’s secretary. Gould writes her off as neither “dumb” or “ambitious.” Fox bets Gould $500 that Gould would not be able to seduce her. Gould asks the temp to read the book and stop by his place that evening to give him her impression of it.
Jeffryes and Gianforti are spot on as coked-out film executives of the ‘80s. No drug use is seen or mentioned but their rapid-fire conversations — choppy even for a Mamet play — have the edgy pacing of minds on coke. Gianforti plays Fox as an especially jittery bundle of energy even allowing for the fact that the man is moments away for the career deal of a lifetime.
Jeffryes caps a commanding performance with his work in two scenes where Gould finds himself being out-maneuvered.
Levanne makes a memorable debut on the local stage with her portrayal of a woman whose lack of familiarity with the film industry is the key to Fox’s future.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.