Black & White 

David Mamet is an uncommonly effective playwright with a lean, fiercely profane style that is unmistakably his own. His aim is always to provoke, but in recent meditations on politics and the problems with "brain-dead liberals," he has tended to do that only. In an opinion piece written for The New York Times, for example, he described America's ongoing conversation about race as being "nothing but sanctimony." That's the theory he explores in Race, a play that would elicit applause from lines like, "I don't think we're brothers beneath the skin, over the skin, or in any way associated with the skin."

Race wants to achieve a mythological status by contrasting contemporary relations to the story of a white man accused of raping a black woman and in the defense created by an integrated law firm. The script echoes earlier works like Mamet's Speed the Plow and is an improvement over November, Mamet's gag-laden misfire about a sitting president given to sexist and xenophobic diatribes.

John Maness, a Memphis actor who's attracted to difficult material, admits that he was initially put off by the script. "But it's Mamet," he says, acknowledging the playwright's celebrated intellect and gift for dialogue. "This is a play about questions that don't have easy answers. There may not even be any answers. And like most Mamet, it's never about what actually happened. It's about what you can prove."

What Mamet seems be proving with Race is that self-interest trumps everything, and people tend to exploit whatever advantages they can. These are themes he's explored before. But would Oleanna, which is also about a sex crime that may or may not have happened, be nearly as inviting or effective if he'd called it Gender?

"Race" at TheatreWorks, as part of Playhouse on the Square's "POTS at the Works" series, July 6th-29th.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment



Beyond the Arc

Jevon Carter’s Debut Brings Hope To Dismal Grizz Weekend

Tiger Blue

#3 Tennessee 102, Tigers 92

News Blog

TVA Says It's 'Committed' to Not Use Aquifer Wells

News Blog

State Liquor Laws On Trial at U.S. Supreme Court

We Saw You

Stumbling Santa, Crosstown Concourse, Red Boa Ball and more!

Intermission Impossible

Family Business: A Capote Christmas From Voices of the South

Hungry Memphis

PETA At It Again

News Blog

Report: Memphis Internet Slowest in the Country

Beyond the Arc

Bah Humbug! Memphis Should Have Seen Joakim Noah Coming


More by Chris Davis

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation