Patti LuPone and Debra Winger star in David Mamet’s debatable new play on Broadway
BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
David Mamet offers a cat-and-mouse encounter with his new play “The Anarchist,” which is currently up for viewing at the John Golden Theater.
Although they may not seem that way initially in the drama -- or when it abruptly concludes 70 minutes later – mostly Patti LuPone is the cat and Debra Winger acts the mouse.
LuPone portrays Cathy, an anarchist who has spent 35 years in prison as a result of a confrontation in which two policemen died. Winger is Ann, a prison official who is about to retire.
Eligible for a parole, Cathy strives to convince Ann that she has been reborn and has changed her radical point of view. The dubious Ann wants Cathy to inform upon an associate still at liberty. As the interview proceeds, viewers hear about Cathy’s privileged background, the crime and her religious turnaround.
Or is Cathy just spewing all of this born-again talk to get freed?
Mamet’s situation is promising but his language turns out to be so terribly stiff in quality, abstruse in contents and roundabout in direction that the potential drama soon flattens out.
The only pleasure to be derived from this disappointingly dull occasion is observing the complexity of LuPone’s passive-aggressive performance as a fiercely intelligent individual attempting to suppress her fiery nature in order to obtain her freedom. The muted Winger simply looks uncomfortable.
The playwright stages his static drama minimally upon a setting by Patrizia Von Brandenstein that arranges various pieces of bland office furniture beneath a rusty girder overhead that suggests the heavy judgment passed upon Cathy decades earlier.
“The Anarchist” continues through Feb. 17 at the John Golden Theater, 252 W. 45th St., New York. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.theanarchistbroadway.com.