What happened to David Mamet?

I used to feel all elitist attending a David Mamet play, greedily devouring all that pompous, gritty dialogue. His masculine-heavy themes were fleshed out with scenes and lines that were maddening, yet rhythmic, in their stylistic tics. Mamet speak, it’s been called. My friend and I act it out this way:

Me: Did you get the thing?

Friend: Did I get the thin–did I get the thing? Maybe I got the thing. 

Me: I suppose you got the thi–

Friend: Maybe I did get the thing. Maybe the thing is the thing.

And on and on. Speed-the-Plow, Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, Oleanna—they’ve all got it; his movies too—House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner. But when my friend and I saw November last night, his latest, we were not seeing classic David Mamet. And hey, good for him if he wants to change things up and write a farce, stretch himself, but sometimes it’s not a good idea to go all Sting and venture into country music.

In November, Mamet takes aim at our culture of uber-PC-ness, a familiar theme in his plays like Oleanna that explored the nebulous area of sexual harassment. But his signature tension was missing—no clever plot twist, no vein popping rage, no death. The most interesting part of the play was listening to the unregulated woman sitting behind us guffaw at all the wrong places.

In the end, I blame it on conservatives. An article in the Globe last year profiled Mamet and his surprising shift from staunch liberal to conservative with a tongue-in-cheek comparison to him coming out of the closet. Really, a right-leaning artist? Is there such a thing? There may be, but in this case, the edge is gone.


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