Thanks to Jordan’s line on cheap tickets, we checked out the new Mamet play last night. “Romance” is a deliciously angry farce in which the all-male cast, largely confined to a court room, spews hatred at one another for long stretches of time, when they’re not busy cutting each other off, vintage Mamet-style. (“Sheeny kike Christkilling cocksucker” is one of the gentler insults. Retort: “Is little Tommy limping when he comes home from communion?”) Ostensibly, the play is about a — you know what, just read the review in the Guardian. And see this if you can: Mamet’s in fine form.
Mamet’s fictive courtroom owes a debt to Lewis Carroll and Kafka. A Jewish chiropractor is in the dock for some unspecified offence; as proceedings spiral out of control, private fears are publicly revealed. The judge is a nervous racist who at one point enquires if Shakespeare was a Jew. The prosecutor is an establishment pillar tormented by his gay lover. In the play’s most biliously comic scene, the defendant consults with his loathed Catholic attorney: “God forgive me, what have I done?” he asks. “I hired a Goy lawyer! It’s like going to a straight hairdresser.” To which his anti-semitic attorney responds: “You people can’t even order a cheese sandwich without mentioning the Holocaust.” That’s just for openers in a breathtaking catalogue of racist abuse.