Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Penitent

A classic David Mamet subject without his signature style of endless cursing.  Mr. Mamet has penned a moral and ethical dilemma that really has no answer but leaves lots of questions.  It's done in an ingenious style of giving you only some of the facts, making you guess at others and revealing a key element right at the end - which only serves to make you reflect back upon the entire play, who said what and how it fits with this new-found nugget of knowledge.  Mr. Mamet cleverly weaves a legal issue (murder) with homosexuality (a murder committed by a gay boy) and religion (his doctor seems to have some opinions on both matters).

I am no Mamet expert.  Frankly I'm no expert, period.  However, upon reflections on the events in the play, for some reason, I am driven to conclude that Mr. Mamet's ultimate goal is to rip religion a new asshole for being used as a cover and an excuse all too often.  I could be wrong, but I really think the doctor may not have been a deeply religious man, but when he made a mistake with his patient (which involves a gun) he may have felt it OK to cover his mistake with an even bigger lie about his religious beliefs.  Like I said, I'm no expert, but If someone did what the doctor's wife reveals at the very end, I can't imagine how anyone could allow it to happen - sworn Hippocratic oath or not.

I will say that Chris Bauer (Charles) held court in most every scene with his own strong convictions and beliefs.  His wife (Kath) Rebecca Pidgeon was a bit stilted and awkward.  Not sure if that was intentional or it was just a lack of performances to master the Mamet style dialogue.  Lawrence Gilliard (The Attorney) provided a brilliant and impeccable performance poking holes in the doctor's statements during a remarkable deposition scene. Jordan Lage (Richard) was a stalwart defense attorney to Charles.

Head on over to the Atlantic Theatre on West 20th and catch a performance of a gripping and thought provoking drama.