Theatre: The Anarchist

ANARCH kassie

L – R: Patti Gardner and Jaqueline Laggy. Photo: Carol Kassie

A simple stage, a table and a desk, two actresses and a million, zillion words. Pay attention from the get go or you’ll never catch up. Playwright David Mamet, master of the coarse, keeps it clean but revels in obfuscation in his short play now getting a worthy, more than it deserves, production by Primal Forces in association with Andrews Living Arts.

The Anarchist opened on Broadway in November 2012 and closed after 17 performances.

This is its first post Broadway production.

Cathy (Patti Gardner) is up for parole, having served 35 years for the murder of two policemen and Ann (Jacqueline Laggy) is the one who must decide if Cathy goes free. The two do extremely well, building some sort of dramatic arc into Mamet’s dense display of erudition. It’s onion peeling time on stage as little by little Cathy’s story is revealed. Questions are posed, repeated, perhaps answered, all smothered with the philosophical discourses on religion, responsibility, sexuality and, it seems, anything else that might pop into the minds of a wealthy young woman who chose rebellion and the strict disciplinarian who confines her.

Director Keith Garsson makes the most of a static script. Gardner’s Cathy is clad in billowing blue prison garb, the only touch of color on stage. She is gray haired, gray faced, worn from serving her time but still refusing to compromise. She seeks parole to visit her dying father but refuses to reveal the whereabouts of an accomplice. Laggy’s Ann is a bespectacled, pant suited, rigidly straight backed automaton who knows full well where the discussion is going.

The only outside influence on the two actors is a loudly ringing telephone, answered tersely by Ann.

The Anarchist is worth seeing to watch the simple challenge: make something entertaining and interesting out of a complex and somewhat boring script. Keith Garsson, Patti Gardner and Jacquie Laggy do exactly that.

Playing through March 23 at Andrews Living Arts Studio, 23 NW 5th Street, Ft Lauderdale. 954-530-1879

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