Critics of playwright David Mamet often take issue with the male-centric focus that pervades much of his work, alleging that his otherwise incisive view of the cutthroat competitiveness of contemporary men tends to come at the expense of nuanced female characters. But while such criticisms certainly have merit, context must be taken into consideration. In his most provocative work, Mamet delves into morally shady corners of our culture, places where gender bias is a prevalent reality. Such is the case in Speed-the-Plow, a scathing satire of the film industry that pits artistic aspiration against commercial appeal, elevating the narcissistic dilemma of a Hollywood producer to a Faustian degree. Informed by Mamet's experiences working as a screenwriter, Speed-the-Plow is full of the playwright's signature touches: rapid-fire dialogue, unchecked avarice, conveniently sacrificed principles, and, yes, a female character whose depth is left frustratingly ambiguous. Cue Chameleon Theatre Circle who, having chosen the work to open their 15th season, now face the formidable task of interpretation. An encouraging sign can be read in the hiring of Barbe Marshall, an acclaimed female director with over 20 years experience, to oversee the production. Making Chameleon Theatre Circle's staging all the more promising is an impressive cast consisting of Garrick Dietze, Sean Dooley, and Nicole Bachman. In the hands of this group, Hollywood's chauvinistic swagger is destined for a well-deserved takedown.
Mondays, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Oct. 12. Continues through Oct. 21, 2012