This play is absorbing and gives us plenty of contentions to chew on, but it's ultimately cynical: empty calories. After all, there's no interesting play in the process of racial accord. To paraphrase Tolstoy, all happy families are boring. So the playwright packs the house with many engaging but ultimately empty arguments, such as that, as Lawson contends, "Jews deal with guilt. Blacks deal with shame." I think that if I were a self-respecting black person, I'd consider my part of that statement to be about as racist as they get in polite society.
Nevertheless, the story carries us along with its dips and turns. Strickland's fate hinges on a red sequined dress. A postcard to an old college roommate pops up, to his embarrassment. Susan's loyalty comes into question.
As far as the performances go, McGuirk maintains an understandable distraction as the client, Daniel projects dignified intelligence as the law clerk, and Swan goes through fascinating permutations of concern as his case changes. Unfortunately, Armstrong is allowed by director Amiee Turner to woefully overact, though he does calm down to a more plausible tone toward the end. Making Brown bombastic is a legitimate choice, but he doesn't manage to make it seem natural.
, David Mamet, Amiee Turner, Ocean State Theatre Company