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Speed the Plow: Lohan back to her acting best in West End debut

| Theatre | 08/10/2014

Speed the Plow at the Playhouse Theatre.
Speed the Plow at the Playhouse Theatre.

The biggest question surrounding revived theatre show Speed the Plow was not whether it would be as successful as its predecessor at the Old Vic, but whether American actress Lindsay Lohan (Karen) had shed her bad girl image. The result was a resounding success- that is on the performance of Lohan; the production itself was far from convincing. Lohan came, she entertained, and she conquered the West End stage at the Playhouse Theatre. Lohan rose like a phoenix from the ashes, of what can only be described as a car-crash career of late, and boy did she do with some style. Although, whether a resoundingly successful performance in Speed the Plow is enough to put to bed her years of going off the rails, is highly debateable. 

Speed the Plow’s acting triumvirate was completed with Richard Schiff as Bobby Gould, and Nigel Lindsay as Charlie Fox. Daivd Mamet’s production, split into three separate acts, follows recently promoted Hollywood-film studio head Bobby in his endeavours to crack the film industry with a new motion-picture. All seems to be going well, that is until, temporary secretary Karen rocks up and turns Bobby’s world upside down, leaving him questioning everything in his life, and leading to a tense and emotional climax.

The production starts off somewhat nervously; the opening exchanges between Schiff and Lindsay were staggered and painful to watch at times; they left the audience feeling slightly uncomfortable, a feeling only eased by the arrival of Lohan. If you were to take Lohan out of the equation, the production could easily have fallen on its knees in agony, and be thrown into the West End scrapheap of shows, that shouldn’t have been revived. Well, fortunately for us Lohan was headlining, and she produces a remarkable performance on-stage reminding us of her acting credentials, which was only stifled by the production.

Lindsay Lohan and Nigel Lindsay in Speed the Plow. Playhouse Theatre.

Lindsay Lohan and Nigel Lindsay in Speed the Plow. Playhouse Theatre.

Lohan was a revelation on-stage; her emotionally charged performance finely balanced the fierce (although at times slightly underwhelming) performances of both Schiff and Lindsay. Lindsay adequately provided numerous much needed comical one-liners; at one point during a heated argument with Bobby, he screams out at the top of his voice, ‘I believe in the yellow-pages, but I don’t want to film it’, after Bobby rejects his film, and opts for Karen’s end of the world radiation oozing epic. The revival of Speed the Plow by David Mamet fails to hit the heights of Old Vic’s production starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum in the lead roles. Instead, Mamet’s production feels lost, and ultimately falls flat, which is by no means a reflection of the acting on-stage.

At one point in the second act Lohan utters the words; ‘once in a while you find a pearl’ and she was right. The pearl of this production was Lohan; she was a breath of fresh air; her performance, far from being a car-crash, captivated, and kept the audience alert throughout, in what was a stuttering revival of Speed the Plow.

Written by Sandip Kana | @sandipkana

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