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Jun 20th, 2019
Whilst John Malkovich's talent cannot be understated, one wonders if his common sense is as he stars in this grim indictment of a perverted studio boss left reeling after his proclivities are finally uncovered.
With classic Mamet-ian flair, the story of Barney Fien begins with two men swearing at each other in an office, before slowly (agonizingly slowly) unraveling a portrait of an unpredictable tyrant obsessed with his weight. Soon though, self-aggrandisement moves on to molestation of a young up and coming actress - before devolving into chaos that involves a man with a gun and a roughshod attempt to add a layer of humanity to a horrible character.
Mamet is trying something - something along the lines of 'in your face' theatre, a sentiment shared by his leading man who believes 'upsetting people is the point of theatre', it's a fair point - but the fact remains that this is still a play about Harvey Weinstein and not a play about his accusers. It's about how HE feels and about how HE is affected. It's well acted for sure and Malkovich's star power radiates, but it's still overwhelmingly a bad taste, misogynistic work that reads as a tone-deaf cash grab with added knob jokes.
Just because its real-life subject has gone quiet, it doesn't mean that the people affected are not still reeling from his audacity. It's just simply not the time for evaluation yet - especially not one as hamfisted as this.
View our show pages for more information about Bitter Wheat, Garrick Theatre.
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