There's a fascinating tale just opened at Joe Adler's GableStage; a labrynth of prejudice, lies and cynicism that entertains, and yes, even enlightens, for 85 edge of the seat minutes. The thought of sitting back and just relaxing won't even cross your mind.
David Mamet's 2009 mordant piece jumps right into the unanswerable when a wealthy white man, accused of raping a black woman, seeks legal help from a law firm run by a white man and a black man. They employ a third lawyer, a young, good looking black woman.
Mamet never runs out of hurtful questions, inflammatory statements, racial epithets, bias, lies and betrayals, as he describes the legal process as “hatred, fear and envy.” But don't be put off, this isn't darkness or depression on stage, a moaning of poor us, we're so bad.
Mamet writes with wit and an eye-opening handle on “Justice” and director Joe Adler and his terrific cast pick up every nuance, making a talky play (and that's not a bad thing) a shining one act that may not make you a better person but will surely make you pause before you speak.
I've got everything and always have had Charles Strickland (Joe Kimble) is the bemused 40 year old who allegedly raped his supposedly amateur girl friend, after first tearing off her sequined red dress. Kimble displays a subtle arrogance in his belief that innocent until proven guilty holds true and that simply because he is he, he must be believed. Good (and that's him) will always prevail. But he's still the puppet, easily manipulated by the others.
The always realistic Ethan Henry plays Henry Brown, the outspoken black junior partner in the law firm, who, when dealing with black and white, has no shades of gray. He doesn't want to take Strickland's case and he is no friend of Susan (Jade Wheeler), their newest employee.
Henry, Kimble and Wheeler handle their roles well, they're always believable, always ratcheting the tension, but, damn, it's just plain hard to stand out on stage when you're sharing it with Gregg Weiner. He plays senior partner Jack Lawson, the meat role. Sure he has the most stage time, but even if he were playing the mail clerk you'd want to hang on his every little word. His veteran lawyer, cynical, confident, nothing can surprise me, but I do have a soft spot, is a thing of theatre beauty. I'll admit it, I'm a fan.
Lyle Baskin designed the realistic law office and Jeff Quinn the lighting. (Look through the windows for the changing office building lights), Matt Cory the sound and Ellis Tillman the costumes.
Race runs through August 5 at GableStage 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables. 304-445-1119 http://gablestage.org