The first production by this company — originally scheduled as the second show by Phoenix Theatre Co. — isn’t for everyone.
With its feckless judge hopped up on allergy meds, an anti-Semitic lawyer with a weaselly Jewish defendant, and a character who’s a flaming gay stereotype, Romance — at one act, and 75 minutes — is as over-the-top as they come. But though one woman who saw the performance I saw last Saturday guessed that Mamet wrote it as a joke, there was definitely more on his mind than yuks.
Paul clearly thinks so: Why else would he provocatively round out the show’s printed program with a long excerpt of Mamet’s infamous 2008 essay “Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal?”
You don’t insert a subplot about Israeli-Palestinian peace talks into a comedy set in New York City unless you’ve got something to say about it. In the essay, Mamet’s brief for his newfound conservatism, he notes that he used to refer to NPR as “National Palestinian Radio.” So while everyone in Romance is mocked, it’s a lot easier to imagine that the play reflects real disdain for the Palestinian cause, for instance, than it harbors about Jews, Episcopalians and gay men.
To be fair, Mamet's mockery of lawyers and judges is quite forthright. As the play’s defendant asks his lawyer, “Why did you go to law school if you don’t want to lie?” (Here’s Michelle Pilecki’s review for CP .)
And perhaps, as Paul himself himself notes in the program, the play’s really meant as an antidote to political correctness, and a “fiesta of forbidden laughter.”
Romance has three more performances, tonight, Friday and Saturday, at The Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., in Friendship. Tickets are $30 and are available here.