It’s hard to believe that playwright David Mamet didn’t update this play he wrote five years ago.
The play, November takes place just before a presidential election. The non-specific Democrat or Republican candidate running for re-election, Charles Smith, (played by Ed Begley Jr.) is a bit desperate and things seem very close in the polls.
The play discusses same-sex marriage, China, dirty politics. It’s as if Mamet were a mindreader.
“This is exactly how Mamet wrote it back then, and yes, it’s as timely today as ever,” Begley explained to Studio City Patch backstage after one recent performance. “It is kind of uncanny, isn’t it?”
Begley stars with another local resident, Felicity Huffman (from Desperate Housewives and TransAmerica) in the Pulitzer Prize-winner’s prophetic play. The play runs through Nov. 4.
Todd Weeks, who plays a comical representative of the turkey lobby, said backstage, “After Election Day no one is going to want to think about presidential politics anymore. This is it. This is the last chance for an audience.”
Begley is brilliant with his dry wit and sarcastic bumbling as a president who thinks he has a pulse on his populace, but is often misguided. He is funny and likeable, despite his sometimes conservative stances, which is even funnier given Begley's own renown beliefs.
The president seems at a loss without his chief speechwriter, played by Huffman, who is a lesbian. She and her partner just adopted a child from China, and she wants to get married—and she wants the president to officiate in her wedding.
Meanwhile, the president needs to come up with a few last-minute fundraising ideas. He talks to a national Native American activist (played by Gregory Cruz) and Weeks as the lobbyist for the National Association of Turkey and Turkey By-Products Manufacturers. They have the national turkey-pardoning moment going on—not just one, but two turkeys to save.
Rod McLachlan plays the Chief of Staff, Archer Brown, who keeps the president on track and in line. He is the straight man to Begley’s best jokes. The play is fast-paced (no intermission), and typical Mamet in style, and Huffman is practically unrecognizable, playing her role in an almost Annie Hall-like style.
If the political climate has gotten you down, this is the last chance to maybe get a laugh out of it all. This weekend is the last chance to see Huffman and Begley in November.
For tickets go to Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave. (213) 972-4400 or www.centertheatregroup.org.