Reviews of Boston Marriage often seem to begin with a moment of ‘Stop the press – David Mamet is actually writing about women – everybody gasp in amazement’; or words to that effect. Having myself studied a number of Mamet’s male-orientated plays, I am always keen to see any of his works in performance, and I went along on Monday night: (a) curious to see if a Mamet play about three women would be any good, and (b) see if these three actresses could pull off the notorious Mametspeak.
Any cynicism I may have had was very quickly erased. The production, directed and produced by Harriet Harper-Jones and Tasmin Swanson, was fast, witty, and very neatly put together. With only three characters on stage (Lorenzo De Boni’s fleeting presence at the beginning cannot really be included), there is no hiding place for a weak actress: but this play was supremely cast. Ali Young was appropriately bumbling and intrusive as Anna’s Scottish maid Catherine; Emily Dixon was elegantly poised but sharp as a knife as Anna’s lover Claire; but Edie Deffebach, as Anna, dominated the Barron, with brilliant comic timing, powerful delivery of lines, and expressions and gestures which spoke as much as Mamet’s dialogue even when she was not doing the talking.
The set was simple but effective, with a piano – detached from the action – at one side, played by Frazer Hadfield. The piano slotted into the production well as a piece of symbolism for Anna, but was put to practical use as the doorbell, a dropped platter, and a musical introduction to each scene (although the overlapping of piano and dialogue was somewhat messy). A plethora of peacock feathers, along with the token candles and mysterious red lighting, supplied a mockingly stereotypical setting for a pretend séance.
While on occasion the dialogue was delivered too quietly, and could have been given more energy, the humour was impeccably delivered, and each actress commanded her character superbly. Hopefully we shall be seeing more of this cast and crew soon.
Image – Ally Lodge