On Tuesday night, the Wilson family and I checked out the new production of David Mamet’s play Speed-The-Plow, at the Barrymore Theatre on 47th Street. It’s a good show, with great dialogue and compelling themes about power and Hollywood. The second act drags, but the first and third are dynamo. Of course, it was hard to watch lead William H. Macy without thinking of the original castmember he had replaced: mercury-poisoned Jeremy Piven. With his abrupt exit from the show, Piven created a monsoon of controversy about his reasons and whether or not they were justified. A terrific actor and a longtime Mamet friend/collaborator, Macy stepped in to fill the void. And, he’s good, but he also feels a little of out place.
You see the three actors in this production (Macy, Elisabeth Moss, Raul Esparza) and someone looks/feels a little different. It’s Macy. Esparza and Moss both embody the spirit of young, ambitious Hollywood. Macy has the presence of the old guard, a veteran. Piven is a good 15 years younger than Macy, and I think that difference (in age, not acting) leaves the current production of Speed-The-Plow feeling a little awkward. Macy is still a terrific actor, just maybe a little miscast. Otherwise, once you get over this hump, it’s a show worth catching.