Tuesday, 22 June 2021 21:01

THEATRE REVIEW: David Mamet's Oleanna still manages to inflame passions Featured

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IN 1992 American author John Gray published a very popular book called Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus which sold more than 15 million copies.

The basic premise was that most common relationship problems between men and women are a result of fundamental psychological differences between the sexes.

It's a book that college professor John in David Mamet’s Oleanna might have done well to read before trying to reason with his struggling student Carol.

When Mamet’s 1992 play first opened nearly 30 years ago, it caused uproar among audiences from New York to London.

Writing in The Guardian at the time, theatre critic Michael Billington stated that it “enflamed passions and divided partners”. He's not wrong!

My wife Feona left the Ustinov Studio at Bath's Theatre Royal in floods of tears, while I was slightly more sanguine.

This thought-provoking play has made a triumphant return to Bath this summer but it does leave you wondering whether men and women have actually learned anything over the past 29 years. How do you communicate with someone whose views on life and interpretations of your every word and gesture are so completely different from your own?

Theatre Royal is giving local audiences a not-to-be-missed opportunity to catch one of the great modern dramas of our time prior to its transfer to London's West End.

The public acclaimed it as a masterpiece whichcontinues to provoke the passionate response for which this extraordinary drama is famous.

Set on an American campus, a seemingly innocuous conversation between a college professor and his female student warps into a nightmare which threatens to destroy them both, when she files a claim of sexual harassment against him.

With its take on the corrosive excesses of political correctness and exploration of the use and abuse of language, this is the ultimate drama of pupil power and student revenge.

With Jonathan Slinger and Rosie Sheehy giving riveting performances in the lead roles, this excellent production is directed by Lucy Bailey and was greeted with five-star reviews when it opened last December.

I'll add mine to them. It's a play that makes you think and is definitely worth seeing but I'll give you prior warning: the climax is not for the faint-hearted.

John Baker

Read this article on the Gazette and Herald here...

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