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Review of Speed The Plow at The Playhouse Theatre, London

Ever since the announcement of Speed The Plow and its stage débutante star and wild child Lindsay Lohan, the internet and press were as wild as her with comments about the likely disaster than the production was to become. I saw comments ranging from her not knowing lines, to her walking away from the show and the comment that her understudy was likely to perform more than her. I have no interest in naysayers generally and would rather form an opinion myself really and have not kept tabs on her commenter's much since the début.

However a whole paragraph on Miss Lohan from me is ironic really as I didn't attend Speed The Plow to see her as I was here for the opportunity to see Richard Schiff on stage. The West Wing is probably my favourite TV series and I was never going to miss a chance to see Toby Ziegler in action live. He is not a disappointment for me and issues forth David Mamet's wordy script in all the fast paced manner I am familiar with from the aforementioned television series.

The play itself at the start for me was really too fast paced. The curtain was up, the lights snapped on revealing Robert Innes Hopkins' crisp and clear office room set and Schiff (as newly promoted head of production Bobby Gould) and Nigel Lindsay (Gould's associate, Charlie Fox) were wording each other nineteen to the dozen. For a few minutes, coupled with the American accents, it was too much. Then thankfully for whatever reason, the mists cleared and I started to know what the hell was happening.

Schiff and Lindsay are good in their quick repartee and perform Mamet's grim portrayal of the film industry well together and their conversations quickly become even more seedy after the arrival of Lohan's "temporary secretary" Karen. Its hard to tell where Lohan's character lies in the play at first. Bringing in the drinks and standing between the two old gents just looking pretty, and on departure from the stage, its clear where the two gents see her in their crude bet. Any more story would be a spoiler, but  it clearly becomes evident that all characters are relevant here, and maybe have hidden agendas?

All performances are fine and everyone now has all their lines in order, although we are well down the run now, so this would be expected. Lohan is no car crash like many predicted and for a first stage performance, personally I think it is rather good. Both the elder statesmen are as you would expect very good and more than satisfy. My own personal gripe really is with the play itself, while it is undoubtedly witty and very clever (perhaps even knowing itself to be so), it is not entirely endearing. Having said all that though, I enjoyed it, albeit far from my favourite of the year.

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Performance viewed: Wednesday 19th November, 2014 at the Playhouse Theatre, London.

Speed The Plow continues at the Playhouse Theatre, London until 29th November, 2014. Details can be found at http://www.playhousetheatrelondon.com/speed-the-plow/

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