Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

The Old Neighborhood by David Mamet

Posted by archangelinamerica on October 25, 2007

Mamet’s trilogy The Old Neighborhood is in its closing weekend at Custom Made Theatre in San Francisco.  I wish I could have seen it sooner and had time to write something more elaborate about it.  Suffice it to say that I enjoyed the production.  I will state that the script is heavy on the dialogue and light on the plot.  The characters, situations and themes resonated strongly with me though.  The vignettes follow Bobby Gould (supposedly an alter ego of Mamet himself) on a visit to his old neighborhood where he has not been to in many years.  In The Disappearance of the Jews, he meets with one of his old friends from school.  We learn that he “married a shiksa” many years ago and his marriage may be on the skids.  He brings up a conversation in which his wife argued “if you have been persecuted so long, you must have brought it upon yourself.”  This theme is examined heavily in Mamet’s more recent non-fiction The Wicked Son.  There a number of other parallels as well in this play including themes of ritual and tradition, self indulgence, internalized oppression and the ever popular variations of dysfunctional families and parental resentment.  In Jolly, he meets up for the evening with his sister and her husband and we learn a little more about the family history and present relationships.  The series concludes with Deeny, in which he briefly meets with a former love interest.  The Jewish themes are omnipresent.  The performances were all very strong and the production is thoughtful.  It is not the most exciting night of drama, but it is heartfelt and the characters resonated with me.  If you have the time and inclination, I recommend checking it out.  The final performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at the Custom Stage at Off-Market (965 Mission St. SF, near Powell BART).  More information and tickets at www.custommade.org.  Tickets can also be purchased at the door.  Dress in layers.  It can get warm or cold (whichever you are not prepared for).  And if you go, let me know what you think.  I’ll have to save my thoughts for another day (or night).


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