If ever there was a play that disavowed political correctness, it is David Mamet’s “November.” While Mamet is well known for his use of profanities, in retrospect, this play is not as harsh as some of his other works such as “Glengarry Glen Ross,” and “American Buffalo.” However, he makes up for that with his racist and sexist remarks in this politically charged play, “November”. Considering the play is about 10 years old, it’s surprising how hard his words fall on the ear when he mocks an “Indian Chief,” insults a lesbian and continually puts down the main character’s wife.
The setting is the presidential office. Charles Smith has served four years and wants four more, but he’s not getting any support from anyone. Part of the problem is that he has no money and no organizations are about to give him any. That is until the National Association of Turkey and Turkey Product Manufacturers want a favor from the president. That’s when Smith wheels and deals and gets all the money he needs. Of course that means that he has to let two turkeys smell his hands before he gives them the annual Thanksgiving Pardon. However, things do not go smoothly and he soon discovers that his deal is as dead as the turkeys who cooked under the strong television lights.
In addition to the politically incorrect jibes in the play are the sayings that are as applicable today as they were in 2008. Smith is quick to tell his right hand man and lawyer Archer Brown the things that made America great. The president also wants to build a wall between Mexico and the United States:
Brown: “We can’t build the fence to keep out the illegal immigrants.”
President: “Why not?
Brown: “You need the illegal immigrants to build the fence.”
While some of the one liners might have been funnier in the past than in today’s political climate, which is so volatile, the Eastbound audiences still found them funny enough to laugh out loud. Director Michael R. Mele has done a pretty good job of bringing this play to comic life. So too the cast which had a rather flat first act, but picked up the pace in the second and third acts.
John Bachelder as Charles Smith has fun as he rattles off the dialogue and Mark Frattaroli’s experience shines as if freshly waxed as he takes on the role of Archer Brown. John Warakomski steps on stage as the turkey association representative and Luke Lynch steps in as the Indian chief Dwight Grackle.
Delivering a most memorable performance is Lauren Lynch who plays ace speech writer for the president as Clarice Bernstein. Looking as if she is really suffering from a horrible cold with runny nose, red eyes and a nagging cough, when in spite of her suffering she rallies with some beautifully written speeches, she delivers the goods as a convincingly funny lesbian bride.
The production features a grand set designed by Kevin Pelkey with light and sound designs by Donald Rowe and Tom Rushen respectively. The theater now flaunts a very comfortable cabaret style seating so audience members can sit back and enjoy their refreshments from home or from the theater’s lounge while enjoying the play. “November” plays through Oct. 15. Box office: 203-878-6647.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]