Ethel Barrymore Theatre, (12/06/2009 - 8/21/2010)

First Preview: Nov 17, 2009
Opening Date: Dec 06, 2009
Closing Date: Aug 21, 2010
Total Previews: 23
Total Performances: 297

Category: Play, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President)

Produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, JK Productions, Peggy Hill & Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Scott M. Delman, James L. Nederlander/Terry Allen Kramer, Mort Swinsky/Joseph Deitch, Bat-Barry Productions, Ronald Frankel, James Fuld, Jr., Kathleen K. Johnson, Terry Schnuck, The Weinstein Company, Jay & Cindy Gutterman/Stewart Mercer and Marc Frankel; Associate Producer: Jeremy Scott Blaustein

Written by David Mamet

Directed by David Mamet

Scenic Design by Santo Loquasto; Costume Design by Tom Broecker; Lighting Design by Brian MacDevitt; Associate Scenic Design: Jenny B. Sawyers; Associate Costume Design: David Withrow; Associate Lighting Design: Driscoll Otto

General Manager: Richards / Climan, Inc.; Company Manager: Bruce Klinger

Technical Supervisor: Hudson Theatrical Associates; Production Stage Manager: Matthew Silver; Stage Manager: Jillian M. Oliver

Casting: Telsey + Company; General Press Representative: Jeffrey Richards Associates, Irene Gandy and Alana Karpoff; Advertising: Serino Coyne, Inc.; Interactive Marketing: Situation Marketing; Press Associate: Elon Rutberg; Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe and Robert J. Saferstein

Opening Night Cast

David Alan GrierHenry Brown
(Nov 17, 2009 - Jun 13, 2010)
James Spader
Broadway debut
Jack Lawson
(Nov 17, 2009 - Jun 20, 2010)
Richard ThomasCharles Strickland
Kerry Washington
Broadway debut
(Nov 17, 2009 - Jun 13, 2010)

Understudies: Jordan Lage (Charles Strickland, Jack Lawson), Ray Anthony Thomas (Henry Brown) and Afton C. Williamson (Susan)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2010 Best Featured Actor in a Play [nominee] 

David Alan Grier


AP: "Mamet play ponders black-white perceptions"

The title is stark in its simplicity but "Race," David Mamet's provocative, hot-topic new play, is anything but simple.

The questions "Race" poses and the answers its characters supply add up to an intriguing study of perception – from both black and white viewpoints. Which means there are no neat, easy conclusions to be drawn even though Mamet throws out some fascinating, dramatically charged opinions, not only on race but on the divide between men and women as well.

The play, which had its world premiere Sunday at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre, dangles one of the oldest but still effective plot devices in the theatrical handbook – guilty or not guilty? Two high-priced lawyers – one white, the other black – have been asked to defend a wealthy white man accused of raping a young black woman.

"None of us is immune from a false accusation," says Jack, the white lawyer, played with delicious, no-nonsense practicality by James Spader, as he considers taking the volatile case. But nobility has nothing to do with whether his firm will represent the man. But if it does accept, be prepared for a tussle, says Henry, his black law partner, who reminds the accused that the law "is not an exercise in metaphysics. But an alley fight."

It's a warning delivered in style by the excellent David Alan Grier, who gets some of Mamet's choicest, brashest lines in this short play, barely 100 minutes – with an intermission, and which the playwright has directed with punchy speed. The fight's battle plans are laid out in the lawyers' well-heeled, book-lined office (a luxurious setting by Santo Loquasto) as they pepper the accused, portrayed by Richard Thomas, with questions.

Thomas' character, with the supremely WASP name of Charles Strickland, is necessarily enigmatic – almost disturbingly naive in his beliefs. One is never quite sure what he thinks, which adds a bit of mystery to the proceedings, and the actor wisely does not fill in the blanks to keep us guessing.

Much more definite is the play's fourth character, Susan, the firm's black law clerk, a young woman who has motives of her own, although they are hard to discern at first in Kerry Washington's efficient, if vocally pallid performance.

Susan has issues and a plot line of her own, including the revelation that she lied on her job application and why her boss, Spader's character, let her get away with it. Race, in effect, colors not the just high-profile rape case but the lawyers who are involved in it.

In some respects, "Race" resembles Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow," with a bit of "Oleanna" thrown in for good measure. In "Plow," the lowly personal assistant (female) attempts to upend the plans of one of the two (male) movie producers. And in "Oleanna," sex becomes an important part of the struggle between a college professor and a combative student.

Yet the four-letter words don't fly with as much frequency as they do in previous Mamet efforts such as "Glengarry Glen Ross" or "Plow." And the dialogue isn't as rapid-fire staccato as the language found in other Mamet plays.

Maybe that's because the overwhelming complexity of the subject matter can't be compressed into short, definitive answers. Mamet's all-too-human creations may be talking about black and white, but these all-too-human people are dealing with a hot-button subject in various incendiary shades of gray.


Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Ethel Barrymore Theatre

(12/6/2009 - 8/21/2010)


Dennis Haysbert
Broadway debut
Henry Brown (Jun 15, 2010 - Aug 21, 2010)
Eddie Izzard
Jack Lawson (Jun 21, 2010 - Aug 21, 2010)
Afton C. Williamson
Susan (Jun 15, 2010 - Aug 21, 2010)

Understudies: Kari Nicolle (Susan).

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