I read the review of New Ground Theatre's production of Boston Marriage with interest. (See "New Ground Turns Mamet's Marriage into a Massacre," River Cities' Reader Issue 530, May 25-31, 2005.) Under normal circumstances I don't believe in commenting on criticism, but after the fourth person asked me why the review seemed so personally and weirdly directed at me I thought it deserved a response.



Clearly Mr. Schulz fancies himself quite an expert on Mamet. I almost imagined him launching into a refrain of "I know David Mamet. He's a friend of mine. You're no David Mamet." However, I would like to answer Mr. Schulz's criticism. He spends four lengthy paragraphs giving your readers a primer (according to Mr. Schulz) on the work of Mr. Mamet. He says he is "spending an inordinate amount of space on Mamet and the script itself to give a proper indication of everything that New Ground's production gets wrong." He goes on to say that the dialogue "requires that the leads are played in the spirit of Mamet's traditionally male hucksters, as soulless puppets to be yanked around at whim." (Emphasis added.) Later, Mr. Schulz finds fault with directing the piece with a "drawing-room comedy approach ... instead of playing the verbally dexterous comedy with speed." Finally, he references the characters of Claire and Anna "as if they could be confused with human!"



Now here's the problem. When Mr. Mamet wrote Boston Marriage, and went on to direct it as well, a critic reviewing his production noted, "The piece is stylized, to be sure, but in the presentational manner of drawing-room comedy, with the performances less hemmed in by the automaton-like, rhythm-dominated delivery Mamet the director often applies to his own work (notably to Oleanna and The Cryptogram)." Further it notes the production is "directed by the playwright with less than his usual clipped stylization." (Emphasis added.) The reviewer was Carolyn Clay.



Boston Marriage was concocted by Mr. Mamet during a production of J.B. Priestley's Dangerous Corner starring Rebecca Pigeon (Mrs. David Mamet), Felicity Huffman (Mrs. William H. Macy), and Mr. Macy. Thus, when Ms. Huffman, in an interview with the Boston Phoenix, says of the play directed by Mamet, "Yes, it really is a drawing-room comedy," I believe her.



Further, in the study guide from the Guthrie Theatre production of Boston Marriage, the director opined: "Mamet offers theatricalized form and at the same time inner truth, a human quality." In all of my research regarding Boston Marriage I found that the productions were treated as "drawing room comedies" and not as the rat-a-tat stylized men of Glengarry Glen Ross that Mr. Schulz clearly prefers.



That your critic didn't like the play or think it worthwhile is certainly his prerogative. I have my own opinions about the finished product. However, it seems to me that perhaps Mr. Schulz should have done his own homework to discover just what Mr. Mamet intended in his foray into writing a period piece with women leads. As for rat-a-tat style Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross is playing on Broadway with a few friends of mine. As Alan Alda said when I asked him about the business of theatre, "Remember to have courage." Next time you print a criticism, perhaps it would be best to measure it against the playwright's intentions and not bring your own personal biases to it. Boston Marriage is not Oleanna and it wasn't meant to be. That's the point.



Lora Adams


Director, Boston Marriage




Mayor Brooke Responds To Engineer Ashton



Dear Bill,



I have read your letter to the editors, and I still think you're wrong on all counts. (See "River Debate Can Be a Win-Win Plan for the Quad Cities," River Cities' Reader Issue 530, May 25-31, 2005.) We are still friends; you have been generous to the city through me and others with your expertise, sometimes for free. I respect your knowledge and integrity; you are a friend of Davenport without a doubt.



Your opinions/arguments are basically two. (1) The IOC will never get a permit to do what it is talking about (and it should have applied for the permit first). (2) Thus the site for the hotel should be near the Crescent Bridge.



On the first point, we have been told differently by the company hired by IOC to do the work that you did for predecessors. I don't know which of you is correct, but so far I have to rely on the expert hired for this project. On getting the permit first, I don't understand how you can get a permit for a project that has not yet been proposed by the owner, IOC, or even put into semi-final form. Rather than our putting the cart before the horse, you are suggesting contents to put in the cart before it's built. Anyway, permitting is covered in the contract, and if a permit cannot be obtained, the project will not proceed.



You suggest the Crescent Bridge area as the best site for a casino hotel. You're wrong, I believe, for many reasons. The main reason is that the IOC does not want to go there, and we have no way to make them. You forget the status quo, for 92 more years, as do many opponents of the proposal. The IOC does not like that location for a lot of reasons. First, it offers no traffic for our downtown or business district, and takes away significant income from the downtown. (SSMID and PILOT income for the downtown exceeds $4 million over 20 years.) Gamblers at a Crescent site will not take a trolley or train to get downtown. Also, contractors say it will take tens of millions of dollars to get streets and utilities there; no one is willing to pay that additional cost. Furthermore, that is a bad location for a casino; if IOC builds a new land-based casino when they've depreciated their boat, they'll do it someplace where there is traffic, like I-80 and Brady; they won't hide it somewhere, like next to the Crescent Bridge. Putting it there also contradicts the RiverVision plan. I suspect there are other reasons.



Charlie Brooke


Mayor, City of Davenport

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