BWW Interviews: SPEED-THE-PLOW Hopes to Deliver at a Rapid-Fire Pace
When Otterbein University sophomore Tori Hidalgo signed on to do the David Mamet play, SPEED-THE-PLOW, she thought it was a great chance to play Karen, a naïve secretary that becomes the object of a bet between Bobby Gould (played by senior Sean Murphy) and Charlie Fox (senior Sam Ray).
What she didn't realize is she was actually going to play three roles in the production.
"She's unlike anyone I've ever played before. Most of the time you're playing people whose objectives are pretty clear and they stay the same way the whole time," Hidalgo says. "(Director David Caldwell) and I talked about how she is three different people in the three acts.
"It's been really interesting playing her in that journey from a really naïve person to someone who is manipulating Gould into doing what she wants."
The show opens 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Campus Center Theatre (affectionately known as The Pit) at 100 W. Home Street in Westerville.
Karen is the lynchpin in the explosive SPEED-THE-PLOW. At the start of the satire, she is a temporary secretary for Gould, a recently promoted producer in a major Hollywood studio. She happens to be in Gould's room when he receives a visit from pal Fox.
After Karen leaves to get the two men coffee, the two men discuss her beauty and virtue. Fox believes the temp is not interested in sleeping her way to the top and therefore Gould couldn't bed her. Gould bets $500 he can get her to sleep with him. He asks Karen to give a courtesy read to "The Bridge or Radiation and the Half Life Society," a book he's not seriously considering making into a movie and give him a full report.
Karen takes the bait, visits Gould at his home and persuades him into making a film of it as he seduces and eventually falls in love with her.
Without giving too much away about the show, none of the characters come across as angelic by the final curtain. Murphy and Ray say that is what makes their characters so much fun to play.
"From the get go it's a struggle between the three characters," Murphy says. "Bobby is a fun character to play. He's kind of a slimy type of guy, an alpha male. He asserts power but the only real power he has is in his position in the company. He's pretty high up and he tries to milk that for all its worth."
"Charlie Fox is definitely the Hollywood producer type," Ray says. "He's not focused on the art as much as he is focused on the money they could earn. That says a lot about him. He's driven by money, sex and lust. I'm not like this guy at all so it's definitely fun anytime you get to become someone else."
The actors believe audiences will enjoy the rapid fire delivery of SPEED-THE-PLOW. Mamet, who also wrote GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, WAG THE DOG and ABOUT LAST NIGHT, uses a lot of broken sentences and unfinished thoughts so the dialogue comes across very true to life.
Ray, who worked with Murphy in Otterbein's summer production of BOEING, BOEING, said the chemistry between the two of them and Hidalgo helps push the show along.
"The dialogue presents a challenge because you have to be right there with the other person," Ray says. "Since Sean and I know each other so well, we can synch up on those rhythms and we make sure we're delivering that rapid pace that Mamet requires is there."
"It's such a high-octane, high-energy fun show to go see," Murphy adds. "The energy makes it feel like you're at a sporting event. Especially since we are doing it in the pit, which is our small theater, it feels so intimate. There should be a really fun energy."
Hidalgo says performing in the round in such close quarters with the audience will present its own set of challenges.
"It's like those people are in the scene with us. It's like having another partner that you can't acknowledge," she says. "It must be really exciting as an audience member."
SPEED-THE-PLOW opens 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at Campus Center Theatre (100 W. Home Street in Westerville). It will also be performed at 8 p.m. Nov. 1-2 and Nov. 8-9.