Review: Speed-the-Plow

“Wow, I didn’t know eye candy could read.”

“Wow, I didn’t know eye candy could read.”

Photo courtesy of B Street Theatre

8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday; $26-$38. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300; Through November 6.
Rated 5.0

“There is no limit on the hunger for power,” Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet wrote in a 2008 New York Times article he penned on the subject of his 1988 play, Speed-the-Plow.

This biting satire on the movie industry, now at the B Street Theatre under the direction of Jerry Montoya, plays into the appetite Americans have to see how things work behind the scenes.

The title refers to a phrase in a 15th-century work song, “God Speed the Plough,” a prayer for prosperity and productivity.

As the play begins, Charlie Fox (Kurt Johnson) is bringing a script to recently promoted studio executive Bobby Gould (Dave Pierini). It is a prison picture with lots of violence and a big name Hollywood star wants to make the film with them. The enthusiasm of the two men builds to almost orgasmic proportions as they envision the fame and fortune it will bring to the two of them.

All they need is the OK from the studio head, who won’t be back until tomorrow, but Bobby assures Charlie it’s as good as done.

The initially befuddled temp, Karen (Stephanie Altholz) can’t quite get anything right, but instead serves as eye candy for the men, who make misogynist comments once she leaves the room. Charlie bets Bobby $500 that he can’t seduce her.

As the play progresses, however, Karen proves she’s not quite as dumb as she seemed, and Bobby’s prediction on the greenlighting of Charlie’s play falls through.

With strong performances by all three in this stellar cast and the hour-and-a-half, one-act production flies by.