There are headlines aplenty surrounding so called stunt casting with opinions divided on its worth. Of course in the celebrity age in which we now live it is often the name that stars in a show that actually sells the tickets. I’m not a fan of being overly critical about it to be honest as often stunt casting can really work. It not only sells tickets but can put a different twist on a role and can actually give life to a piece of theatre that may not otherwise necessarily work that well. It can also attract a new audience that perhaps would not otherwise be enticed into a theatre. Then there is Lindsay Lohan in Speed-the-Plow!
The problem is a simple one. Lohan can’t act. Yes she can speak the lines and move around the stage into the positions to which she has been requested to by director Lindsay Posner but there it ends I’m afraid. In terms of truth, believability or even likeability Lohan falls far short from the expectations that have been put upon her. This is of course Lohan’s stage debut and one has to wonder if it was wise to make her debut in such high profile upon the West End stage. Almost certainly not, and with the gargantuan London prices these days you should quite rightly be able to expect a performer of a far higher calibre than this.
We are at least lucky to have the distraction of two fine actors however in the form of Richard Schiff and Nigel Lindsay. Both do sterling work with Mamet’s slightly dated feeling play about the sharks of the film industry back in the late eighties. Schiff plays newly promoted film executive Bobby Gould who is ready to green light a new film under long term friend and ally Charlie Fox played by Lindsay (Nigel that is!). The distraction of the young temp in the form of Karen (Lohan) brings the friendship to breaking point as a change of heart and direction shifts the tensions considerably.
Once tuned into the machine gun style delivery that is trademark Schiff there is great work from him. Schiff always gives a sense of mild bewilderment with a cantankerous streak that makes him a hugely engaging performer to watch. Nigel Lindsay is solid and puts in a quality if not remarkable performance. He leans towards a shout a little bit too much and never fully expresses the hurt that should be felt by the betrayal of his friend.
There may well have been a new audience brought in for this, there were certainly some die hard Lohan fans in at the performance I was watching, but are they really going to be won over to magical world that is theatre with this play? I can’t see it somehow.