Category Archive for: ‘Kedar K. Adour’

Two powerful performers salvage a murky The Anarchist by The Rhino

The Anarchist: Psychological Drama by David Mamet.  Directed by John Fisher. Theatre Rhinoceros, Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, between Front & Battery, SF, CA Box office: or 1-800-838-3006 (24-hour ticket Hotline).

January 2 – 17, 2015 – Limited Engagement – 15 Performances Only!

Two powerful performers salvage a murky The Anarchist by The Rhino. Rating: ★★★☆☆

David Mamet is an accepted master as a playwright and has received, nay earned, all the prizes heaped on his body of work. His star ascended in 1975 with the premiere of Sexual Perversity in Chicago, continued in 1975 with American Buffalo. Other well-known titles of his voluminous body of work include Glengarry Glen Ross, Speed the Plow, Oleanna and Race, all of which have been produced in the Bay Area. He has not always been given accolades and his Faustus that had its world premiere at the Magic in 2004 was a colossal bomb and apparently never seeing another production.

The latest Mamet play to reach San Francisco is The Anarchist now in a limited engagement at the Eureka Theatre under the auspices of The Rhino Theatre organization.  The decision for The Rhino and their noted Artistic Director John Fisher to stage this two-hander play raises questions even though it is extremely well performed by Velina Brown and Tamar Cohn and thoughtfully directed by Fisher. If Patti Lapone and Debra Winger could not garner favorable reviews on Broadway in 2012 where the play lasted only 17 performances what convinced Fisher to mount it here?

Like Oleanna it is a verbal battle between two discordant characters that lasts bout 80 minutes and has a gut-kicker ending. Whereas Oleanna involved a university professor and his graduate student, The Anarchist involves a lesbian prison inmate Cathy (Cohn) and the warden Ann (Brown). Cathy has been incarcerated for 35 years with consecutive indefinite sentences that is really a life sentence for terrorists’ acts that killed two police guards. The play is based on true acts committed by groups similar to the Weather Underground and the Brinks robbery of 1981 that involved Patty Hearst.

Although parole hearings involve a board with the family of the deceased allowed to speak for or against release, Mamet reduced the board to one with a member of the family off stage with the warden making references to her desires. To make up for the lack of a parole board, Fisher has placed six chairs on each side of stage with audience members sitting there. The central area of the fine stark set by Jon Wai-keung Lowe is uncluttered allowing Fisher to move his two characters around like boxers in a ring with each actor circling for advantage. The advantage is in the language. Mamet puts forth his ideas about crime against the State, the State’s response to those crimes and the damage inflicted on humanity/individuals and rehabilitation.

Both Velina Brown and Tamar Cohn give bravura performances adding verisimilitude to their   characters and doing justice to Mamet’s intellectual dialog with nary a swear word.

Theatre Rhinoceros is proud that they are “America’s longest running and most adventurous queer theatre that explore both the ordinary and the extraordinary aspects of our queer community. .” The fact that Cathy has a lesbian lover who has not been caught is integral to the plot and is most likely the major reason the play is receiving its West Coast Premiere.

CREATIVE CREW: Director, John Fisher; Stage Manager/Assistant Director, Sarah Young; Scenic/Lighting Designer, Jon Wai-keung Lowe; Costume Designer, Christine U’Ren; Assistant Lighting Designer, Sean Keehan; Sound Designers,        Gene Mocsy, Sarah Young; Graphics/Ads/Photography, David Wilson; Prop Design , John Fisher.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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