Bitter Wheat assessment at Garrick Theatre, London – ‘John Malkovich


David Mamet, thorn within the facet of political correctness, is again in London with one other play a couple of highly effective man accused of sexually assaulting a weak lady. Oleanna meets Pace the Plow, meets each different factor he’s ever achieved barely higher. Properly it’s good to have pursuits.

John Malkovich is Barney Fein, which sounds a bit like Harvey Weinstein. He’s a Hollywood producer with numerous cash and energy. He buys off all of the critics who can provide him awards. Oh, and he assaults younger girls.


Fein swears lots and insults folks. That’s downside one: the overwhelming sense that this can be a automobile for pithy traces that don’t quantity to a personality. Entertaining dialogue, empty of revelation. Downside two: Malkovich – clearly an excellent actor – isn’t sensible right here. He delivers every part in an unceasing monotone, like somebody is performing some drilling subsequent door.

Mamet has a number of good causes to be bitter about working in Hollywood – Hannibal and The Postman At all times Rings Twice are two of them – and vitriol pours out of this flabby train in cynicism as if from the mouth of Mamet himself. Besides, after all not: these are simply characters, that is simply enjoying satan’s advocate.

Superb, open up a debate if you would like, however a minimum of put a teeny little bit of effort into any of the opposite characters. Ioanna Kimbook, in her stage debut as Fein’s younger sufferer, does impressively effectively with a hole and underwritten half. Plus, there’s great things from Doon Mackichan in her personal underwritten half because the long-suffering secretary. Her blankness, like she’s been eroded by all this shit, hints at one thing fascinating: how so many individuals could be complicit.

Ioanna Kimbrook and John Malkovich in Bitter Wheat at Garrick Theatre, London. Photograph: Manuel Harlan

Questions of theme apart, this actually isn’t anyplace close to Mamet’s greatest. For one factor, he can’t discover some other option to change scene than actually cease the present for a couple of minutes, twice, whereas a brand new set is rumbled on behind the security curtain.

Then there’s the fairly bafflingly implausible ending which appears to be the one second of the play that’s the farce it’s billed as. However the ludicrousness comes so little and late that it is mindless.

In direction of the tip the play, Mamet does discover one thing to say: he reveals that Fein and males like him, on account of being wealthy, white, influential and male, will all the time suppose they will get out of any state of affairs, and Mamet takes that notion to its absurdist level.

However we don’t want this play to show Mamet can write good dialogue, or to show the deep-set rot of the Hollywood machine. Mamet’s cool cynical detachment, with which he can take purpose on the complete rattling system, is pointless. It’s like arguing for either side of a suppurating wound.

Possibly time will soften issues and this may show to be an acute deconstruction of masculinity and privilege and energy. It will have simply been good if, sooner or later, any level, somebody may have mentioned: “Er David, possibly it’s a bit too quickly.”

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