Feel that the London theatre lot, myself included, has been a bit snobby about Lindsay Lohan making her stage debut in the West End. When you've been on the silver screen since you were 10 and become more famous for off-screen indiscretions then its not as if you can take a small role to quietly hone your craft. That would receive just as much comment.
In the little that I've read about Speed the Plow, it's as if the press and theatre fans alike have been building her up to fail. I confess I wasn't initially interested but I actually started to feel sorry for her. After all it takes a lot of courage to get up on stage once let alone night after night, particularly if you've never done it before. And, particularly if you know that the press and a chunk of the audience will be scrutinising every little thing far more than a less 'notorious' actor would be.
So I day-seated. It's £20 for a front row seat and the mixed reviews, perhaps, are keeping the queue short. I rocked up 25 minutes before the box office opened this morning, was ninth in the queue and only one person joined after me. I think there was one matinee day seat unfilled.
The opening act of David Mamet's play is set in the office of Bobby Gould (Richard Schiff) who's recently been promoted to head of production at a big Hollywood film studio. An associate, Charlie Fox (Nigel Lindsay) arrives with exciting news of a film project that is sure to be hit.
The quick fire exchange between the two men sets the tone and themes: The superficial, self-importance and money-driven attitude of those working in Hollywood. It reminded me ever so slightly of the "could be me, could be you" exchange between Potts and Sweets in Mojo when they think Silver Johnny is going to hit the big time.
At the same time Gould has been given a novel by the studio boss for a 'courtesy read'. It philosophises on mankind's inherent fear and the end of the world. It is the antithesis of what the studio would pick up and make into a movie. Lohan plays Karen, the nervous and bumbling temp, whom Fox bets Gould can't get into bed. In order to engineer a visit from her to his own home Gould gives her the novel to critique.
Karen is inspired by the book and initally manages to convince Gould of its merit.
There are a few laughs in what is quite generally quite a depressing play. It paints a stark, black and white view: Art and substance vs commercial, with little inbetween. Even Karen who seems to have an naive morality falls into certain preditory stereotypes.
It is certainly thought-provoking but feels a little too unsatisfactorily polarised.
Speed the Plow isn't ever going to be my favourite play and I don't think Lohan will win any awards but it is a solid debut, and I would see her in something else. Yes there was one prompt - that may have been an over enthusiastic prompter - but that husky voice just worked so well for her character. She is in expert hands with Schiff and Lindsay (and Lindsay Posner directing) and at the end of the day they have the most stage time.
Glad I saw it and it is far from the car crash that I sniffily thought it would be when it was first announced. It runs until 29 November and is an hour and 35 minutes including an interval, yes an interval, after 35 minutes, which is a bit odd when they do the same scene change in reverse, without a break later on.