'November' just in time for elections
When David Mamet's "November" opened on Broadway with Nathan Lane, the play was declared "hilarious."
The production at TheatreWorks in New Milford is very good, but it's a far cry from hilarious. Centering on the fictional presidential campaign, the incumbent President Charles Smith (referring to no real president) wants to get re-elected in spite of the fact that the polls indicate he should not. His staff pretty much writes him off and he has no money or bargaining power left. He therefore tries to squeeze the turkey association for more money when it asks Smith to pardon two turkeys for Thanksgiving Day.
While this production starts off funny, Tom Libonate, as President Smith, takes a turn away from humor and gets a bit too mean to be funny. However, because of his stature and the supporting cast, the production is still entertaining.
Jonathan Jacobson is the quintessential right hand man, Archer Brown. His performance is also a bit too serious, though closer to the mark. Mike Ritts does a great job as the "Turkey Guy." The straighter he plays it, the funnier he is; so too Matt McQuail as Chief Dwight Grackle.
Robyn Maitland is absolutely wonderful in the role of Clarice Bernstein, the president's speech writer. She is supposedly suffering from a bad cold and she looks every bit the part. Her energy in the last scenes perks up the production.
Richard Pettibone directed the production and designed a set so perfectly presidential that there's not one detail left to chance. The set is stunning. The lighting and costume design, also by Pettibone, are character-defining and downright exemplary.
This is not the usual David Mamet play, although there's enough foul language to identify the playwright. There are also the tell tale signs of "Mametspeak," the playwright's unique use of incomplete discourse that still manages to reveal exactly what is being said.
The New Milford production is timely as well as thoroughly entertaining. It plays through Oct. 6 and is likely to pick up on the comic factor after its opening.
Too good to cross off your list of "must see" plays, you will have a good time here.