Like many people in my generation (am I allowed to say this? Do you have to be of a certain age to refer to ‘your generation’?) I have always rooted for Lindsay Lohan. I’ve loved her ever since the Parent Trap and I’ve not lost hope that she will be all right after all. When news came out that Lindsay was going to do a play in London, I was cautiously excited. That plus the casting of Richard Schiff aka Toby from the West Wing meant that I absolutely had to see Speed the Plow.
I want to start on a positive, I didn’t personally pay for the tickets (my boyfriend did, thanks dear!) and we had excellent seats.
Right, enough about the positive! It’s unfortunate that what I got from Speed the Plow is mediocre performances in a really fundamentally uninteresting play. The first scene dragged so much, I couldn’t believe it had only lasted 35 mins when the interval began. Perhaps with more gifted actors, the material could have been elevated to something engaging, but it was not meant to be. It’s a dry play about a jaded movie executive who temporarily agrees to put his career on the line in order to ‘green-light’ a supposedly good book into a meaningful movie following a night of passion with his ambitious temporary secretary and then changes his mind again. In a word, the entire plot is reset so it ends at the same point that it started on and perhaps that is the point, but as we do not really see the reason for the changes, I didn’t buy any of the character motivation. A play does not need compelling plot or likeable characters in order to be entertaining, but if this is the case at least some killer dialogue would help. What we get is long speeches that I suppose are intended to zing with wit, but which felt flat and uninspiring and downright boring. The characters are are cardboard stereotypes, with not a drop of distinguishing personality and I did not care about or believe any of them.
But enough about the play itself, you are probably wondering about how Lindsay did and oh how wish I could say that she was a diamond in the rough and made it all worthwhile, but unfortunately I can not do that. I was nervously hoping that she would remember her lines, but she messed up the start of her big Act 2 speech and had to get a line fed to her, which in all my years of theatre going I have never before witnessed. It was incredibly awkward and though she recovered reasonably well, it did mean that I was unable to listen or concentrate for at least five minutes. And the rest of her lines she remembered, including the impassioned speech about fear and the end of the world, but that’s as much praise as I can honestly give her. Lindsay’s speech feels rehearsed and what’s worse, there is no chemistry between her and the audience, she leaves us cold and her supposed passion is wholly unconvincing. I’ve always liked her raspy voice and I liked it here, but she hides behind her hair and there is little visible emotion on her face. It’s possible that with a better material, she would have done ok, but elevating David Mamet’s uninspiring play is unfortunately beyond her skills as an actress.