Playwright David Mamet does not filter his work through rose-colored glasses, but unflinchingly takes on issues of racism, sexism and homophobia, uncovering the ugly sore that many would prefer never to see (including good liberals). As talented young director Patrick Dooley says, 'This play does not intend to remedy the way our country deals with the Rodney Kings, the Anita Hills and the gay population, but rather exposes [these ills].' White, middle-class Edmond (Richard Silberg) wakes up one day and realizes that he is no longer spiritually or sexually satisfied with his wife (he hasn't been for years, he tells her), and heads off into the netherlands of New York City to search for his identity and some modicum of truth.
Like a cross between After Hours and a never-ending dark carnival, Edmond's odyssey takes him to a fortune teller, 'sex bars' (where he finds neither solace nor climax), pawnshops and, finally, to bed with a waitress/actress whom he bludgeons post-coitus when she refuses to face her identity ('If it makes you whole, always say it,' he rages before he plunges the knife into her). Ending up in jail, he finally gains some sort of redemption: 'Every fear hides a wish, but I don't feel it since I'm here.' The acting here is concise and satisfying, from Silberg on down, and the direction a skilled and truthful effort.
A man says good-bye to his wife and begins a personal odyssey downward out of his middle-class, straight, white existence. Mamet's 1982 play is a short (just over an hour), spare, deeply disturbing parable on racism, sexism, homophobia, and the thin veneer of civilization in our society, rendered all the more unsettling through its raw confrontations with stereotypes and its tentative, ambiguous conclusions. Shotgun, a new company in its debut outing, pulls off a surprisingly effective, low-budget production. Director Dooley needs to clean up some of his transitions and develop more of the subtext in some of the scenes, but, after an awkward opening, he handles Mamet's short, sharp confrontations well and builds the story effectively. Richard Silberg has a few uncertain moments as Edmond, especially in his more emotional scenes, but generally acquits himself well as the confused, self-centered, and eventually reborn protagonist, and the strong supporting cast features outstanding work by Curtis Sims, Karen Goldstein, and Darryl Keyes among others.