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The Anarchist Review – The West Coast Premiere

By Barbara Keer

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If you are a David Mamet fan (which I am) and/or are interested in fine theater and a thought provoking theme, get your tickets for West Coast Premiere of The Anarchist by David Mamet directed by John Fisher and presented by Theatre Rhinoceros immediately.  January 17th is the last performance. It is playing at The Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St. with tickets available at the Theatre Rhinoceros website or by calling 1-800- 838-3006.

 

This two-person drama pits Tamar Cohn as Cathy, an Anarchist who has served a jail term for 35 years and Velina Brown as Ann, the prison psychologist who holds the key to Cathy’s release against one another. The Anarchist is directed by the Glickman and Critics’ Circle Award-winning John Fisher, with Lighting & Scenic Design by Jon Wai-keung Lowe and costume design by Christine U’Ren.

 

 

In this production, the viewer experiences Mamet’s signature rhythmic language. In what is like a ping-pong game, this battle of two women over freedom, power, money, religion—and the lack thereof, remains compelling during the eighty-five minutes it runs.

 

This was my first experience at The Eureka Theatre. I live in the Chicago area and am in the San Francisco area for an extended period of time.  I am interested in small theaters in San Francisco and The Eureka is charming and well located. It is also a very good venue for this production.

 

A friend suggested we would enjoy eating at Coqueta at Pier 5, which is walking distance from the theater.  We enjoyed a wonderful tapas lunch there and happened to be seated at a table next to Betsy and Simona who were also going to see The Anarchist. We agreed to compare notes after the performance.

 

Being familiar with Mamet’s work in Chicago, I was amused with some trivia on his website.  Mamet once worked as a waiter at Second City. “Well known for the rhythmic nature of his dialogue, he actually uses a metronome during rehearsals to perfect the actors' delivery of it.” There is also an interesting interview with some of the Steppenwolf Theatre directors.  I have seen several Mamet productions at Steppenwolf in Chicago.  I was fascinated to learn of the Mamet connection to the Rhinoceros Theater.

“Theatre Rhinoceros is proud to present West Coast Premiere of this exciting drama which premiered on Broadway (2012) - starring Patti LuPone and Deborah Winger.

David Mamet and Theatre Rhino and John Fisher have a unique history. John Fisher directed the Theatre Rhinoceros production of Mamet’s Boston Marriage in its Bay Area Premiere in 2006. Fisher wrote an undergraduate thesis at UC Berkeley on Mamet. In addition, Michael Hausman, Mamet’s film producer, produced John Fisher’s first NYC show, "Tangled Versions of the Truth”. Fisher met Mamet on opening night and Mr. Mamet was kind enough to lend his encouragement to Fisher, a young director just starting out.”

 

Walking from the performance, I had the chance to talk with Betsy and Simona, to compare notes.  All of us agreed with Betsy’s comments.  We felt that the play was powerful, thought provoking, and current, that Mamet has not lost his touch. We watched the layers of the "onion" peel away.  Betsy said, “I loved it!”  I am not sure I can say that but I am glad to have seen this production, to have the chance to see the fine acting, Tamar Cohn, especially, and to be presented with some really hard, meaty issues over which to ponder.

 

Photos: Courtesy of Theatre Rhinoceros unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published on Jan 06, 2015

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