Speed The Plow

A cut-throat comedy about Hollywood’s competitive movie industry

Written by David Mamet
Directed by David Storch

Ari Cohen and Jordan Pettle in Speed-The-Plow. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

“That’s what we’re in business to do—make the thing that everyone made last year.” This is the gospel according to Hollywood producer Bobby Gould in David Mamet’s 1988 play Speed-The-Plow, a searing three-hander now playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

Directed by David Storch, Soulpepper’s latest production stars Ari Cohen as Gould, the new head of production at a leading movie studio, and Jordan Pettle as his hyper, long-suffering and power-hungry associate Charlie Fox. The paint is still drying in Gould’s new office when Charlie (or “Charl”) bursts in with a lucrative opportunity: an A-list star is interested in his script (a shallow buddy film set in a prison) and he needs Bobby’s help to “green light” the production. The two fast-talking execs plan their pitch to the studio head and boast about how much money they’re going to make.

But the scheme is interrupted when Karen (Sarah Wilson), an attractive temp steps into the picture. The slimy pair have $500 riding on whether Bobby can get her to sleep with him, so the head of production asks her to give an artsy novel about the effects of radiation a “courtesy read” and deliver her opinion to him that night at his place. While he has no intention of making the book into a film, Karen is so touched by the story that Bobby is swayed overnight to make it work. The next day, a furious Charlie confronts his decision and a survival of the fittest, good vs. evil-type battle takes place in Bobby’s freshly decorated office.

Although Mamet’s chopped dialogue can be jarring at times, this high-stakes script paints a brutally accurate portrait of the dog-eat-dog movie business, where everyone is out for themselves and success often comes at the cost of decency. Featuring first-rate performances (Pettle stands out as the audience favourite), sexy set and costume design (Dana Osborne), lighting design (Kimberly Purtell) and sound design (John Gzowski), Soulpepper’s challenging production gets the green light from us. Go see it!

Speed-The-Plow runs until September 22, 2012 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Visit soulpepper.ca for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Sun, 2012-07-22 - Sat, 2012-09-22
Our rating:


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