I went to see Mamet’s Speed The Plow at The Old Vic last night and I wanted to just give some quick thoughts about it.
The play stars Kevin Spacey, the Old Vic artistic director, and Jeff Goldblum, along with Laura Michelle Kelly. Spacey is magnetic and riveting (dangerous combination, those magnetic rivets…). Kelly was genuine and engaging. Goldblum was dry and enigmatic. I could never quite figure out if he was flat or was it his character.
It is tempting to think that Spacey trolls Hollywood looking for actors with time on their hands against whom he can look strong. If that is the case he found his man in Goldblum. I am a real fan of Goldblum, have been since the early days of Earth Girls Are Easy and the like. In this, however, he just never raises the temperature on stage above tepid, while Spacey can take two steps on stage and sparks fly. In the penultimate scene, when things get rough, I found myself hoping that maybe Spacey would wake Jeff up, but not so much.
I don’t want this to sound like the show is a dud. It is not. Even with Goldblum’s flat performance the script, in all of its realism and intricacy, shines through. That, along with the red-letter performances by Spacey and Kelly, and the capable acting of Goldblum (despite his lack of colour or depth) makes for a brilliant night out.