China Doll: Theater review by David Cote
Like most people these days, I go to the theater so I don’t have to see or think about Donald Trump. Yet here’s Al Pacino, with goofy hair and a monstrous ego, spewing two hours of bullshit as pugnacious, self-righteous moneybags Mickey Ross. His is not just any B.S., however: David Mamet has scripted this dramatically desiccated pencil sketch, in which Ross sweet-talks, wheedles and vituperates his fiancée, lawyer and political enemies via Bluetooth. Have you ever had the desire to watch Pacino at home, arguing all morning with AppleCare Plus? You are in luck.
Otherwise, China Doll offers the sad spectacle of two world-class artists turning in their lamest work. The play (in which Christopher Denham costars as an efficient assistant) is crammed with backstory and padded with an interminable series of phone calls. Pacino, wobbly on his lines, dithers without the vocal snap and drive that Mamet—even late, third-rate Mamet—needs to sustain tension. Maybe someone should tell the writer that his producers can afford a third character or better yet, a dramaturg with ideas.—David Cote
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (Broadway). By David Mamet. Directed by Pam MacKinnon. With Al Pacino, Christopher Denham. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission.
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