Alex Massie

Mamet reads Friedman: Obviously Can’t Write Anymore

Text settings

Marvellous stuff - to the point of self-parody- from the Guardian's Michael Billington:

I am depressed to read that David Mamet has swung to the right. In an essay for the  Village Voice, Mamet claims he is no longer a "brain-dead liberal" and increasingly espouses a free-market philosophy and social conservatism. As a citizen, Mamet is free to do as he likes. What worries me is the effect on his talent of locking himself into a rigid ideological position.

Surely shome mishtake? You mean the wong ideological position? Indeed so:

I've always seen Mamet as an inordinately complex writer: one whose apparent tough-guy, Hemingway-esque stance conceals a sensitivity to social and sexual issues. But when Mamet talks openly of his admiration for conservatives like Milton Friedman and Paul Johnson, I begin to worry that he may be painting himself into a corner. Already in his last but one play, Romance, seen here* in 2005, there were tell-tale signs of his talent going off the boil.

You have to love that "last but one" don't you? It means his latest play is fine and, sadly for Billington, uncorrupted by Friedman or Hayek...

*Oddly, Billington's own review of Romance says that while the play may not be one of Mamet's finest it reveals another side to the dramatist: "a passionate moral concern with the state of the nation" and that "It was moving to be reminded that American drama, at its best, has always possessed a strong social conscience - and that, well away from the bright lights of Broadway, writers such as Mamet... are keeping alive the tradition of theatre as a vehicle of radical protest."

[Hat-tip Prospect's First Drafts]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articlePoliticstheatre