Speed-the-Plow Review 2014

  • Our critic's rating:
    Average press rating:
    Friday, October 3, 2014
    Review by:
    Mark Shenton

    Well, she made it to the stage. And she needed to be prompted on just one line on opening night. From the moment it was announced that Lindsay Lohan was to make her professional stage debut in the West End, there has been a running commentary as to whether or not she would actually make it there, and when she did, about how secure her command of her lines were.

    Here's a sad case of a star's reputation preceding her, but then LiLo (as she's known) has lived her life in the public gaze and tabloid columns for so long that it is has been impossible to avoid. Like the Osbourne family, she allowed the cameras into her life for a reality TV series so can hardly complain that her every move and nights out at London celebrity eateries are now being chronicled daily in the press here.

    But if like Kelly Osbourne, who did a stint in the London production of Chicago as Mama Morton, she is hoping for redemption with the theatre, I'm not sure she's going to find it there, either. And if the programme is anything to go by, she comes not just with baggage but an entire entourage: it lists no less than four people attending to her needs, including a personal dresser (Sergio Priftis), hair and make-up (Siwan Hill), publicist (Beth Morris) and personal assistant (Jess Peckham).

    But this being a play, not merely a personal appearance, there's also a director. In a recent interview, Lindsay Posner who is directing her here commented, "I've always believed that Lindsay Lohan is a proper actress. In the movies I've seen her in, despite her troubles in life, I've always thought she was supremely talented. Although for obvious reasons I was taking a risk, I felt I was casting a really good actress for the part."

    But the question has to be asked whether he was casting the best one for it; there are surely countless actresses in London who would be better. Her painful inexperience shows in a tentative nervousness she displays throughout. Admittedly, the character she plays - a temp secretary to a newly-anointed head of production at a Hollywood film studio - is seriously out of her depth, too, but that doesn't mean the person playing her should be.

    The play revolves around the tussle between her character's attempts to persuade the studio head to give the go-ahead to a film adaptation of a book about radiation against the attempts of a longer-established producer colleague to promote a commercial prison drama. It's not much of a showdown, to be honest - the stakes never feel truly earned - but Mamet's much-revived play provides at least two great roles for the men.

    In the last London revival just six years ago, they were taken by the stellar partnership of Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum, who brought a ready-made Hollywood sheen to them; now it's the turn of West Wing star Richard Schiff and our very own Nigel Lindsay to make a provocative, slightly more low-key assault on them.

    They make a smart job of it. It's a pity they are lumbered with the ineffective and ineffectual Lohan between them.


    "This workaday but watchable revival doesn't soar to the heights of its predecessors, but you can't blame the star actress for that."
    Dominic Cavendish for The Telegraph

    "Richard Schiff and Nigel Lindsay are in fine, darkly frisky form as the pair of producers whose longstanding friendship she threatens to sunder...A good but by no means a great night out whose value does not depend on the swirl of publicity occasioned by the female lead."
    Paul Taylor for The Independent

    "Whatever her colourful past, Lohan brings on stage a quality of breathless naivety that is far and away the most interesting thing in Lindsay Posner’s otherwise tame, under-powered revival."
    Michael Billington for The Guardian

    "Far from being the train wreck that’s been gleefully predicted, Lindsay Lohan’s theatre debut is competent — without being exciting...the sceptics who’ve been dying to see Lohan fall on her face will be disappointed."
    Henry Hitchings for The Evening Standard

    External links to full reviews from popular press
    Telegraph - The Independent - The Guardian

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