Mamet captures the moment in theatre studio

Tim Pemberton as Emil Varec and George Edkins as George Aaronovitz in Duck Variations

Tim Pemberton as Emil Varec and George Edkins as George Aaronovitz in Duck Variations - Credit: Archant

It is rare to come out of the Abbey Theatre Studio without still thinking about the play you have just seen - and the current David Mamet double bill is no exception.

The Company of Ten is putting on The Shawl and Duck Variations, two plays with apparently little in common other than Mamet’s renowned use of language and ear for dialogue.

But they work surprisingly well together - the one with an element of drama and the other putting the audience in the position of eavesdroppers to a two-way conversation.

The Shawl is the denser of the two plays. It focuses on what appears to be a fake medium and the efforts of himself and his partner to swindle a young woman out of money in her mother’s will she believes she is entitled to.

But is all what it seems? By the end of the play the line between fakery and reality has become blurred and the multi-layered play has clearly moved on from first impressions..


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To that end, the role of the director is particularly important and Jo Emery, who also takes the role of Miss A in The Shawl, rises to the challenge admirably.

By the end of the play, the ever-reliable Russell Vincent in the role of the ‘medium’ John has markedly softened and become far more sympathetic and likeable than when we first meet him - whether or not that was Mamet’s intention, it works.

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The only other character we meet is John’s partner Charles who can be seen as the catalyst for the entire play and is mesmerising in the hands of Tom Pike.

Duck Variations, focuses solely on two elderly Jewish men and their conversations on a park bench, Ostensibly they are talking about ducks - as the title suggests - but that is merely a reflection on the human condition as they see it.

It is a demanding play and George Edkins as George and Tim Pemberton as Emil rise to the challenge magnificently whether sitting reading newspapers, prowling around with their hands up to the heavens or merely responding to the lyricism of the language.

The Shawl and Duck Variations runs until Saturday and tickets can be obtained from the Abbey Theatre box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

MADELEINE BURTON

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