David Mamet writes in his book, The Secret Knowledge (2011): ‘A good drama aspires to be and a tragedy must be a depiction of a human interaction in which both antagonists are, arguably, in the right’.
The skill, wit, and intelligence of Mamet’s writing in Race deliver multiple, conflicting ‘truths’ that are sure to persuade and provoke simultaneously. Here, at a crucial moment in the play, Jack airs his view on race in the US:
“I. Know. There is nothing. A white person. Can say to a black person. About Race. Which is not both incorrect and offensive. Nothing. I know that. Race. Is the most incendiary topic in our history. And the moment it comes out, you cannot close the lid on that box.”
Two high-profile lawyers—one black, one white—are called to defend a wealthy white client charged with the rape of an African American woman, but soon find themselves embroiled in a complex case where blatant prejudice is as disturbing as the evidence at hand. With characteristic bluntness, Mamet leaves nothing unsaid in this no-holds-barred suspense story which the Chicago Tribune dubbed “intellectually salacious.” In an electrifying display of the tight plotting and rich dialogue for which he is renowned as a dramatist, he weaves a thorny web of suppositions, half-truths and ingrained biases. Mamet’s play begins a discussion on race but the play itself becomes both the discussion forum and the discussion topic at the same time, raising the question: can we talk about race and can we talk about talking about race?
Race is a play that requires a strong cast to deliver four very different points of view, Ratio has once again assembled a stellar ensemble who rise to the challenge. Part of the power of Mamet’s drama is his vigorous, refined use of language, the infamous ‘Mamet-speak’. His dialogue is written in stylized, yet naturalistic form, incorporating emphases and attenuation, deliberate inaccuracies, overlapping, interruption, obscenity. Like the rest of Mamet’s work, Race offers its viewers neither consolation or ready answers. But under the able presentation of this marvelous cast, I know that it will engender much discussion, continuing an ongoing dialogue that is essential to us individually and collectively. It is without doubt one of the most galvanizing American plays of this century so far—and I am very proud to present it to our audiences.