ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London Review
With Terry Johnson directing, we get a rapid fire dialogue from the principals of the mixed race law firm headed up by Jack Lawson (Jasper Britton) and African American, Henry Brown (Clarke Peters). The wit and repartee is so excellent, I could quite happily have watched the characters in Race slotted into a long running television series.
I echo the review from my editor when she saw the play in New York, (NY Review). As she said, Lawson and Brown are in a no win situation. They find out that the Jewish law firm of Greenstein has cast off their potential client Charles Strickland (Charles Daish, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Bill Clinton, with a touch of Donald Trump body stockiness, but without the comb over hair) and know that few white jurors will want to let him off as they might be accused of racism and that black jurors will not find a white man innocent.
Complicating these fine legal decisions and second guessing, is the part played by Lawson and Brown's junior, Harvard graduate Susan (Nina Toussaint-White) a young woman of African American heritage who just happens to have lied on her application form and seems to be making errors that will land her employers in the mire. As this is Mamet, nothing will be simple and the complex cross and double cross will have the inattentive thoroughly perplexed. The red sequinned dress worn by the alleged rape victim is a crucial detail.
Yes it is a bit heavy handed with explicit language but some of the wit is Wildean, “One can win any case as long as one only takes on cases one can win,” says Susan who has obviously learnt one lesson or Jack's worldly wise comment, “None of us is immune from a false accusation.”
The London set looks remarkably similar to the New York one, an impressive library of leather bound volumes and solid wooden, expensive but durable furniture. Through the windows we can see the glass skyscrapers of the financial district. There is attention to detail though in the yellow legal pads used in America but not in the UK.
Jasper Britton is in his element with hair long on top, short at the back which springs out of place and he has to comb back with his fingers. He can zap the one liners like a submachine gun and he paces around in a predatory manner, demonstrating his quicksailver mind. Clarke Peter's Henry is a master of the ironic delivery and the shocking aphorism delivered with a richness of vocal quality. I laughed like a drain.
Nina Toussaint-White in her first major role is excellent and keeps us guessing in her business suit with a very short skirt and high heels. Charles Daish's accused is bemused by the accusation and the reprehensible blast from his past, not the behaviour but the origin of which, I didn't find entirely credible. I found Race highly enjoyable.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.