As Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company spends its season celebrating founder David Mamet's life in the theatre, Syracuse Stage has been doing the same but more literally: the Upstate New York company is finishing up its mounting of Mamet's A Life in the Theatre. The show ends Nov. 21 after starting previews Nov. 3 and opening Nov. 5.
A relatively early work for Mamet (1978 -- post-American Buffalo but pre-Glengarry Glen Ross), A Life In The Theatre looks at a famous but fading actor and his influence on an up-and-coming co-star over the course of a decade. We also see the pair work together on a variety of plays and play styles, such as Chekhovian drama and war epic, as they play to an [unseen] theatre audience.
The rather gentle piece is atypical Mamet to those accustomed to his two best-known play styles: clipped, obscenity-filled, verbal power plays (Edmond) and more haunted, elliptical pieces (The Cryptogram).
Patrick Husted and Jeffries Thaiss star, respectively, as the seasoned and green thespians. Designing the show at Syracuse Stage are Randall Klein (costumes), Walt Spangler (set) and John Lasiter (lighting).
Director Robert Moss, artistic director of Syracuse Stage, called Mamet's Life "a comic valentine to the theatre... At times, the actors will have their backs to [the audience] as they play to the other audience; the comic effect of seeing costume changes, scene changes and stagehands doing their work is great fun." For tickets ($15-$32) and information on A Life In The Theatre at Syracuse Stage, 820 East Genesee Street, call (315) 443-3275. Next up: Dec. 1-23, Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo.
-- By David Lefkowitz