Counter-Productions Theatre Gives God-Speed to the Plow

counter-speedSpeed The Plow
, by playwright David Mamet, is a cross between the popular television show, “Mad Men” (about cut-throat ad salesmen) and Mamet’s earlier work, Glengarry Glen Ross (about cut-throat real estate men).  In the new Theatre 82 in Cranston, Mamet’s classic tale of how Hollywood works is brought to life with great energy by the Counter-Productions Theatre (CPT) Company.

Set in the 1980s, Speed the Plow is a satiric skewering of the movie business, as well as a true cautionary tale for those who jump in to swim with the sharks. Be warned – there is plenty of salty language, especially between the two old studio pals, newly promoted Bobby Gould and his compatriot, the hyperactive Charlie Fox. But the dialogue is a realistic representation of two men boosting their own egos while fulfilling each other’s needs.

Ted Clement, artistic director of CPT, guides the hand-picked cast on a rollercoaster of emotion, yet he gives each actor the freedom to take individual parts to their greatest height. The play opens in the nicely appointed office of newly promoted production chief, Bobby Gould, played with a steely focus by Patrick Cullen.  He and long-time co-worker Charlie Fox, played with constant nervousness by Charles Lafond, are celebrating a new opportunity brought to them by a popular celebrity.


“We’re both whores,” admits Gould (Cullen), as head of production. “Yeah, we’re whores,” agrees Fox (Lafond), who has been promised a co-producer credit. But such is the way of the business world. “I’m not an artist,” confesses Gould. This is where young actors and others should pay special attention. “My job is to make the studio money,” Gould concludes. No wonder the independent film world has expanded so rapidly in the past 20 years. And so their plan is set until in walks the beautiful temporary secretary, Karen. Naïve as a newborn babe, Karen (played convincingly by the lovely Ashley Arnold), asks Gould and Fox to explain the way of picture-making to her when she picks up and reads a script tagged as unmarketable.

While the play proceeds rather as expected, the performances are genuine. The second act is an amazing zinger with Fox taking control, bringing the action to a climax. The first act drags just a tad at the top. Perhaps it is the nicely dressed, detailed prop set. I was waiting for Fox (Lafond) to impale his forearm on a combination award/pen set on Gould’s desk during his constant gesturing.

Although it is nice to see real furniture on a black box stage, it takes an eternity to reset during a blackout so that lights can come up on the interior of Gould’s home. However, the costuming is spot-on, and Clement adds a perfect soundtrack of signature 80s hits that might have you singing under your breath.

Speed the Plow continues at Theatre 82, part of the Artists Exchange at 82 Rolfe Square in Cranston on June 14 and 15 at 7 pm and June 16 at 2 pm. For more information about Counter-Productions Theatre Company, visit their Facebook Page or go to For tickets, $18 each, call the Artists’ Exchange at 401-490-9475.