A Life in The Theatre

Previewed 27 January 2005, Opened 2 February 2005, Closed 30 April 2005 at the Apollo Theatre in London

A major revival of David Mamet's play A Life in the Theatre in London starring Patrick Stewart and Joshua Jackson and directed by Lindsay Posner

David Mamet's hilarious and poignant play about two actors - stage veteran 'Robert', and aspiring newcomer 'John'. Set both on stage and behind the scenes in a fading small town rep theatre, it follows their friendship and their rivalry as they battle with the cruel uncertainties of their profession. Inspired by David Mamet's own early backstage experiences and brief career as an actor the play is an acutely observed, bittersweet comedy that delivers all the absurdity, the joy and the heartache of a life in the theatre.

The cast for A Life in the Theatre in London features Patrick Stewart as 'Robert' and Joshua Jackson as 'John'. It is directed by Lindsay Posner with designs by Giles Cadle, lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Matt McKenzie. Patrick Stewart's recent London theatre credits include Henrik Insen's The Master Builder (Noel Coward Theatre 2003). Lindsay Posner's recent West End directing credits includes David Mamet's plays Oleanna starring Aaron Eckhart and Julia Stiles (Garrick Theatre 2004) and Sexual Perversity In Chicago starring Matthew Perry, Minnie Driver and Hank Azaria (Harold Pinter Theatre 2003). David Mamet's other West End plays include The Cryptogram, American Buffalo, Speed-the-Plow, Glengarry Glen Ross and Boston Marriage.

"Robert (Patrick Stewart) and his young colleague, John (Joshua Jackson), are members of an old-fashioned rep company, dressing up in chain mail and tunics one day, surgical scrubs the next. The older man is approaching the end of his working life; the newcomer still has faith in his future. As Mamet shows, however, the old trouper and the young buck are merely at different stages of the same loop; and, despite received wisdom to the contrary, life, for them, is actually a dress rehearsal... both actors quickly transcend their celebrity to inhabit these beautifully drawn roles, elegantly teasing out the shifting subtleties of their tenuous yet weighty relationship - not family, not friends, but bound together all the same by a conflict as old as any Greek tragedian's... This is at times a very funny play - the interspersed scenes from John and Robert's work are performed with a joyous sense of absurdity as Jackson and Stewart swap ludicrous costumes and bad lines. Mamet's passion for the mechanics of the theatre is also well served by Giles Cadle's simple set, evoking hugger-mugger backstage spaces or the sets of other, lesser plays." The Sunday Times

"David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre is not especially nice about actors; at best, he is only sympathetic. We meet just two of them: rep actors in a tatty theatre somewhere in America. One is Robert, an old pro; lonely, pretentious, vain and as easily offended and susceptible to flattery as all actors tend to be. The other is John, new to the game, still wet behind the ears, in awe of this intriguing world of greasepaint and let's pretend, and hanging - at least to begin with - on Robert's every word. 'We are explorers of the soul,' spouts the old luvvie, and John believes him. In a series of sketches, in the dressing-room and backstage, Mamet captures all the tension and rivalry between the two. But little by little, the balance of power changes. John becomes more confident; he makes new friends he does not share with Robert... The real pity of the piece is that this should have been a double-act, but Stewart can't help eclipsing young Joshua Jackson , best known as the teenage heartthrob of Dawson's Creek. Moreover, Lindsay Posner's fluent direction can't, alas, create a satisfying play from a series of uneven, often underwritten, very light sketches. The Mail on Sunday

"David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre lasts 85 minutes, but, unlike some pieces that are aeons longer, it packs three plays into its short, enjoyable span... The play comes in 26 scenes... it is, then, very literally a sketchy work. Yet there is human truth and pathos here as well as humour that, yes, sometimes veers too far into caricature. A Chekhov parody is ludicrously wan and a sea rescue far too silly, but when Stewart’s Robert plays a surgeon haplessly fumbling his lines over a prone body, it is hilarious. I have not laughed so much since the last serious episode of Casualty." The Times

"Self-absorption among actos is not unknown. Here is an entire play devoted to the subject - and what a crashing bore much of it is. This is a pity, for the production's stars, Patrick Stewart and Joshua Jackson, are good. Actually Mr Stewart is better than that. He is a stage maestro, able, with one deft flick of the tongue, to express illicit desire... So, the acting is not the problem here. It's just the dreary, plodding play. David Mamet may be fashionable, but he is plainly not faultless... Mr Stewart is a pleasure to watch. Mr Jackson... does not put a foot wrong. But this was a poor choice of play for their talents..." The Daily Mail

A Life in the Theatre in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 27 January 2005, opened on 2 February 2005 and closed 30 April 2005