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Previewed 15 April, Opened 22 April 2004, Closed 17 July 2004 at the Garrick Theatre in London
A major revival of David Mamet's play Oleanna in London starring Aaron Eckhart and Julia Stiles and directed by Lindsay Posner.
A chilling, provocative and incisive drama, Oleanna dissects the controversial issue of sexual harassment from every emotionally charged side of the equation. When a college Professor agrees to meet a struggling student behind closed doors, their conversion yields only mutual misunderstanding... and an unexpected charge. As their antipathy turns ugly, it destroys lives, derails careers and ultimately leads to a cataclysmic event that no one could have expected.
The cast for Oleanna in London stars Aaron Eckhart as 'John', the college Professor, and Julia Stiles as 'Carol', the student. This production is directed by Lindsay Posner. Pleae Note: Contains strong language.
When Oleanna premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, in June 1993, the play hit the headlines of the national newspapers, dividing both the press and the audience in what became a must-see event on both sides of the Atlantic. Regarding this revival, the director Lindsay Posner says: "I have deliberately cast slightly younger actors in this near mythical power struggle between two people, to reinforce the ambiguity of the piece; both psychological and sexual. This is a play not just for the 90s but for many a decade to come."
"American playwright David Mamet's brilliant theatrical diatribe against the outrageous excesses of political correctness is so overpoweringly persuasive that it transports you to uncomfortable territory. At first you feel for intellectually-challenged student Carol (Julia Stiles) as she pleads with her condescending university lecturer John (Aaron Eckhart) to accept that she's just too stupid to hack it in academia. But as this riveting three-act drama unfolds it's impossible not to detest Carol for her insistence that John's awkwardly sympathetic attempts to help her add up to serious sexual harassment... Director Lindsay Posner's gripping action takes place in John's antiseptic office. After early bad timing wrecked the deliberately edgy dialogue, Hollywood double act Stiles and Eckhart hit their stride and brought this explosively violent play to life. Well acted, marvellously written and skilfully directed, Oleanna is thought-provoking theatre at its best." The Daily Mirror
"Lindsay Posner's vigorous, glamorously cast production of Oleanna stresses that Mamet's concerns run deeper than issue-of-the-week buzz words and convenient zeitgeist-chasing. For a complex play, the story is horribly simple: John is a university professor awaiting confirmation of both his tenure and the purchase of the new house he has bought for his family. Such cosy aspirations are wrecked when his troubled student Carol accuses him of inadequate teaching, inappropriate behaviour and sexual misconduct... Political correctness might have burnt itself out, but Oleanna 's incendiary power was never just about the proper use of the word 'girl'. The times might have changed, but, depressingly, they haven't changed that much." The Sunday Times
"What a difference a decade makes... I can't imagine why I ever defended the stupid female student who accuses her professor (here a sympathetic and sexy Aaron Eckhart) of rape, sexual harassment, elitism and racism. She has confessed her anxieties about her exam grades and he has comforted her with a friendly arm on her shoulder and a promise of some personal tutorials. OK, so he's relished his power, but he's sharing his own sense of inferiority, too. Absorbed as I was, I wanted to slap Julia Stiles's naive, irritatingly thick and horribly vengeful student, Carol, who spouts received opinions parrotfashion. She deserves the smack in the face she gets, and more besides. But this remains a potent play about the way individuals no longer communicate; they get their lawyers to do it for them. Ten years on, Lindsay Posner's well acted production maps the territory with clarity; it's not his fault the boundaries have moved so drastically. It might have been more interesting to see the roles reversed (male student, female prof) to test our prejudices afresh." The Mail on Sunday
Oleanna in London at the Garrick Theatre previewed from 15 April, opened on 22 April 2004 and closed on 17 July 2004.