PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2006, 12:00am


Hong Kong Players

Fringe Theatre, Fringe Club

Reviewed: June 30

Under the direction of chairman Stephen Bolton, the Hong Kong Players deliver a fast-paced, punchy and wickedly funny interpretation of this David Mamet satire on Hollywood.

As Bolton's production notes say, Pulitzer-winner Mamet is 'one of most exacting playwrights writing today'. His dialogues are as complex and dark as his characters, making his plays a challenge for directors and actors. The Players' production of Speed-the-Plow was postponed for a month so the cast - Rob Archibald, Stephen Elting and Kimberly Wright - could get it right.

And did they? The play opens with a rapid-fire exchange between film producer Bobby Gould (Archibald) and agent and long-time friend Charlie Fox (Elting), as they discuss a possible movie that's bad but will make them rich.

In walks Gould's temporary secretary Karen (Wright, right with Archibald). Later, Gould and Fox make a bet: can Gould get his secretary to sleep with him for love?

So, Gould invites Karen to his home, ostensibly to discuss the merits of an art-house script. They end up in bed. Gould is convinced she loves him; Fox isn't so sure.

What's worse for Fox is that Gould now wants to make the art-house movie instead of the sure-fire winner. So he sets about trying to turn Gould back into the cynical, greedy player he was.

Archibald and Elting were in their element, although both appeared tense at the start. As the play progressed, the actors delivered their lines without missing one dark or humorous note. Bolton kept a tight rein on the pace and masterfully shifted the power between characters.