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Speed-The-Plow Hardcover – Apr 1 1988


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.



Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books (April 1 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568496303
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568496306
  • Shipping Weight: 789 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Product Description

Review

David Mamet's Speed-The-Plow is infinitely more than a brutal satire on Hollywood. It is a study of male panic and the denial of redemptive grace. Michael Billington - Guardian Sitting through a David Mamet play is like being caught in a sudden shower of verbal broken glass. The dialogue is so sharp that it slices the senses and there is an iciness to the darkness of the humour ... his sheer skill with language makes for commanding power. Daily Express --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Mamet is a world-leading author, playwright and screenwriter, whose many awards include the Pulitzer Prize, Joseph Jefferson Award, Obie Award, New York Drama Critics Circle Award and Tony Award. Many of his plays are considered modern classics and include Glengarry Glen Ross, Oleanna, Edmond, The Cryptogram and Speed the Plow. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Gould's office. Morning. Boxes and painting materials all around. Read the first page
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Format: Paperback
Mamet gives us blinding pace in this spare play, a mere 82 pages in print. It can easily be read in an hour. The rapid-fire exchanges between characters put the reader in the position of a rubber-necked viewer at a tennis match between serve-and-volley powerhouses. If merely keeping the reader/viewer engaged is the goal of good theater, Mamet succeeds, in spades.
But truly great theater resonates after the reader has laid the play aside or exited the playhouse. In this regard, "Speed-the-Plow," superior work though it may be, falls just a bit short for me, although I confess I have not seen it performed on stage, and would jump at the chance to do so. In any event, as a piece of reading, the play is too slight in its ideas for me to classify it as top-notch.
The play is built on a simple idea. Two movie execs, Charlie Fox and Bobby Gould, meet in Gould's office. Fox has brought Gould, his superior, a sure-fire hit, which from all we can gather will be a typical piece of Hollywood pap sure to please the masses. Fox has sold the script idea to a big-time Hollywood performer who has given them a short-time to put the deal together.
Enter Karen, Gould's temporary office assistant. Gould has been giving an obtuse, esoteric novel a "courtesy read," and as a ploy to seduce her, Gould asks Karen to read the novel and give him a report on it. Fox offers Gould a friendly bet that he won't succeed with Karen. Somehow -- and this is a key weakness in the play -- Karen manages in the second act to convince the hard-boiled Gould to produce the film of the novel, at the expense of Fox's project.
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Format: Paperback
This is probably Mamet's best work, in my opinion, since he focuses on truthful characters without the rather contrived repartee of many of his other plays in which he seems to attempt to develop some metrical dramturgical quirkiness to provide the viewer/reader with a sense of originality. I find Mamet's screenplays usually better than his plays, try The Spanish Prisoner for example. But in Speed the Plow, he provides us with fully fleshed characters who speak like real people (with the necessary artistic license and not so hung up about verbal pyrotechnics. By the way, his style is obviously influenced by studies with Sandy Meisner from the Neighborhood Playhouse. Read the book in the the year of the life of Sandy Meisner "Meisner on Acting" and you'll see the acting exercises that influenced Mamet's writings.
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Format: Paperback
Every time I read this play, I find myself more and more excited to stage it. We are producing a production of this play here in Vancouver November 3rd-14th at the Havana Theatre, and this play is a great read, but even better when it's played. This play is quick witted, hard hitting, yields one of the best final scenes in contemporary theatre in my opinion. Mamet fan or not, this play is as topical today as it was a decade ago when it was written.
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By A Customer on Dec 3 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting play, written in a style of short, "clipped" dialogue. It is mainly a story about the ugliness of the movie industry. Interestingly enough, Madonna played the character Karen in the broadway production.
If you enjoy David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross / American Buffalo / The Spanish Prisoner / Wag the Dog), then you should enjoy this play.
(Side note: the language isn't as bad as Glengarry Glen Ross).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The best of Mamet (along with Glen Garry) June 28 2002
By JackOfMostTrades - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is probably Mamet's best work, in my opinion, since he focuses on truthful characters without the rather contrived repartee of many of his other plays in which he seems to attempt to develop some metrical dramturgical quirkiness to provide the viewer/reader with a sense of originality. I find Mamet's screenplays usually better than his plays, try The Spanish Prisoner for example. But in Speed the Plow, he provides us with fully fleshed characters who speak like real people (with the necessary artistic license and not so hung up about verbal pyrotechnics. By the way, his style is obviously influenced by studies with Sandy Meisner from the Neighborhood Playhouse. Read the book in the the year of the life of Sandy Meisner "Meisner on Acting" and you'll see the acting exercises that influenced Mamet's writings.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Intoxicating prose, uncertain structure March 6 2002
By Tyler Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mamet gives us blinding pace in this spare play, a mere 82 pages in print. It can easily be read in an hour. The rapid-fire exchanges between characters put the reader in the position of a rubber-necked viewer at a tennis match between serve-and-volley powerhouses. If merely keeping the reader/viewer engaged is the goal of good theater, Mamet succeeds, in spades.
But truly great theater resonates after the reader has laid the play aside or exited the playhouse. In this regard, "Speed-the-Plow," superior work though it may be, falls just a bit short for me, although I confess I have not seen it performed on stage, and would jump at the chance to do so. In any event, as a piece of reading, the play is too slight in its ideas for me to classify it as top-notch.
The play is built on a simple idea. Two movie execs, Charlie Fox and Bobby Gould, meet in Gould's office. Fox has brought Gould, his superior, a sure-fire hit, which from all we can gather will be a typical piece of Hollywood pap sure to please the masses. Fox has sold the script idea to a big-time Hollywood performer who has given them a short-time to put the deal together.
Enter Karen, Gould's temporary office assistant. Gould has been giving an obtuse, esoteric novel a "courtesy read," and as a ploy to seduce her, Gould asks Karen to read the novel and give him a report on it. Fox offers Gould a friendly bet that he won't succeed with Karen. Somehow -- and this is a key weakness in the play -- Karen manages in the second act to convince the hard-boiled Gould to produce the film of the novel, at the expense of Fox's project. When Fox learns of this, the following day, he is of course outraged and manages in the end to convince Gould that the seemingly idealistic Karen is in fact no different than either of them and has used Gould sexually in return for the promise to produce the "art" film.
Much of the play's power derives from Mamet's undeniable gift with language. Fox and Gould sound absolutely real as Hollywood types: borderline slimeball, jaded, absolutely devoid of idealism, but very funny, precisely because of all these things.
Language, however, is only one element of successful theater. The motivations of Karen are obscure, but more importantly one is hard-pressed to believe that Gould, who spends much of the play developing in different ways the idea that he's not paid to produce art, would even momentarily be convinced to dump a sure box office smash and endure the humiliation that Fox heaps on him. All I could think of was, That Karen must have been some dame. Trouble is, I didn't get enough of her through Mamet's development to buy that.
I'm a big Mamet fan, and even work that is not his best is for me worth reading. "Speed-the-Plow" was, simply put, intoxicating the first time I read it because of its rhythmic intensity. Even if its intoxication fades a bit in the aftermath of reading, enough of a glow lingers to make the time spent worthwhile.
Call Bull By Name, Bobby! Jan. 11 2009
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This play debuted just after David Mamet directed his first movie, House of Games; it's easy to think the experience left him embittered. The barrages of testosterone-soaked male posturing that dominate plays like Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo are translated to the big-studio film industry. And here we see a device that would become a Mamet standard in the 1990's: a woman enters the men's space and calls them on their baloney sauce.

This play is nuanced and subtexty. What the characters say is less important than what they imply. In this way it's a little like Harold Pinter, and it's especially difficult to get the import just by reading the script. That difficulty is multiplied by the distinctive jagged Mamet-speak of characters who seldom finish a sentence in their rapid, electric dialogue. If you want to study this play as literature, get friends together to read lines. This play absolutely demands actors.

Yet it's intensely rewarding and yields potential for endless discussions. Which character is most venal? Is it better to be honest about venality than to mask it in artistry? What kind of industry reduces humans to interchangeable commodities? All of these conundrums and more are made visible in this play, but it doesn't offer up pat answers. It leaves you hungry to think.

The one fault I find is that it wraps the characters up a little too neatly at the end. We know who we're supposed to like, who we're supposed to loathe, and which characters bet on bad ponies in their choice of loyalties. Considering the thematic ambiguity with which we're left, putting a bow on the package right at the end is just a little to neat for my money.

"Speed-the-Plow" is both damning and hugely funny. It was this blend of condemnation and comedy that build Mamet's reputation, and he uses it here to full effect on movies and the men who make them. Powerful and punchy without being merely slick, this is a play for people who love theatre for its power to recognize bull and call it by name.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Mamet Headed for Another Revival Sept. 28 2008
By John F. Rooney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This play on Broadway originally starred Madonna, Joe Mantegna, and Ron Silver. To me David Mamet is an overrated playwright and an underrated screenwriter. The play is going to be revived in the 2008-2009 season along with Mamet's "American Buffalo." They are both slight efforts which pale in comparison to Pinter, Stoppard, Albee etcetera. He puts three characters on the stage and lets them blabber on, but he adds some comedy. Supposedly there's a deep and portentous subtext related to the American psyche.
In this play two movie makers have to decide upon presenting socially significant films or the usual commercial drivel. Karen (Madonna) tries to convince Gould to choose art over commerce by bedding him. Fox tries to persuade Gould that the only reason she acquiesced was to get the art film greenlighted.
Mamet in a New York Times 2008 article says this play belongs to "that particularly American subgenre, the Workplace Drama." In the occupational drama he sets up circumstances in which characters have to choose between two evils. Of Americans he says, "We live to work." This play he says deals with "the difference between Work and Art, and how is one to draw the line."
Of his play Mamet says, it's "a ripping yarn, with a bunch of sex, some nifty plot twists, and a lot of snappy dialogue." For this play I think he's wrong on all four counts. True, in the play business drives out idealism; it's the ruthless versus the toothless, but it's not ripping, nifty, snapping, or sexy.
The title phrase is like a good luck wish for swift and profitable plowing. It's a behest that you speedily plow under and start over. There's dirty work to be done, and somebody has to do it, and if you don't do it, you'll be plowed under and someone else will do it. Why is the movie business garbage? "Why? Why should nickels be bigger than dimes? That's the way it is."
The play does not read well, and it cries out for the voices and gestures of flesh and blood actors.
Mamet at his best May 20 2010
By D. Sorel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In regards to the plot, a movie producer named Gould is debating with his friend and colleague the importance of money versus art. Though the two agree that it is "art" that is most important, it is clear that money is what rules both of their lives. The rising action occurs when Gould bets his friend that he won't be able to have sex with his new secretary. In order to bed her, Gould gives her a book that was given to him as a "courtesy read". The woman falls in love with the book and its message and convinces Gould to throw away his cynical view on art and Hollywood and produce the film.

As is typical with Mamet, the script is filled with swears and at times confusing conversations in which the characters talk extremely fast and cut each other off. The power of the entire play is centered on three characters. Though the plot sounds tragic, it is also comedic. As is typical with Mamet, he pushes all of his characters to the extreme while still allowing them to possess an excellent sense of humor. Unlike other plays, the comic relief is built into the script and does not take place in its on separate scene or plot line. Instead, the characters are both tragic and comedic and have to embody other aspects.


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