Online Hubbub: Romance

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Why do we laugh at content that is so embarrassing and offensive?

If the defendant is guilty, what punishment fits the crime?

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77 Responses to Online Hubbub: Romance

  1. DRK says:

    We loved it! Great ensemble work.

  2. beth says:

    loved it – we laughed out loud!

  3. LO says:

    OMG! We were laughing so hard. Great cast, a hysterical script and all the right touches (cell-phone ring tones, underbreath mutterings) kept us laughing out loud. Every time Will LeBow was on stage, we knew we’d be in for something spectacular and he didn’t disappoint.

  4. Lawrence Neil Bailis says:

    I have never seen anything quite like it at the ART.

  5. unkatrazz says:

    Pretty funny and pretty interesting. Neither really funny nor really interesting. Seemed like a a very long SNL sketch with roots in Marx Bros & Night Court, a couple hooks into controversial public issues, but also some fighting some battles that ended long ago. But it is always worth seeing what has come out of Mamet’s imagination, and he is traveling in some interesting territory. Like him best when he has laser focus of Glengarry, House of Games, Oleanna…this one was a little out of focus.

    • Sharonking says:

      Honestly – I simply found it mildly amusing, rather than hilarious. It had a certain objectionable slapstick quality which I found a bit irritating, detracting from what small kernels of humor there were. It seems like Mamet was just out of his range.

  6. David Barry says:

    Leaving, we heard one audience member say, “It was an inch deep and absolutely hilarious.” It was wonderful, one non sequitur after another! The cast was great and its timing superb but it would be very hard to top Will LeBow’s judge for antic comedy.

  7. STeegarden says:

    Very funny — we enjoyed it enormously. The whole cast was terrific, but Will LeBow was especially a stand0ut.

  8. willa kahn says:

    We thought it was very funny – even though we’re straight Jews. Will LeBow has wonderful comic timing. He made me laugh a lot, always a pleasure.

  9. Tim says:

    Very funny with an excellent cast of the ART regulars. This production really benefited from the cast all understanding each other so well.

  10. Jeanne Norris-Neal says:

    We loved it! It was like watching a Marx Brothers movie! I say this even though 3 of the 4 of us missed the whole first part and didn’t get there til after intermission. Unlike the cast’s our timing stinks.

  11. Lina says:

    Excellent timing, great lines, accented humor, convincing characters – overall a very good performance.

  12. Greg says:

    Best A.R.T. performance of the year. Will LeBow was outstanding.

  13. BSul says:

    Ensemble cast work was generally good. Timing by Will LeBow was perfect. Farcical nature of the piece very apparent. Scenery was excellent. Almost too good. I lost focus looking at the backdrop paintings.
    Problem from my perspecitive is that the play did not hold together. Great word play from Mamet, but Act I, scenes two and three were flat. Interest level was not high and the repartee was off. They seemed like skits and not part of the play. Scene three with the lovers was not interesting, but it did play into the second act. Thematically it pulled together at that point, but at the end of Act I my attention had waned.

  14. Molly says:

    Such a lark. I needed a laugh, and Mamet’s ROMANCE gave me bellyfuls. Quite the send-up, and since just about everybody (except women) were lampooned, I chuckled and whooped and had a great time. Couldn’t believe the 2nd scene, when the white couch pops up out of nowhere–!

  15. Gabe says:

    A tight, fierce and funny show! I loved the Will LeBow – so specific and realistic a portrayal of a zany character. The cast was energetic, passionate and seemed to relish every word of Mamet’s script. Elegantly choreographed chaos!

  16. Robin Ohringer says:

    We were really disappointed in this play. We did not find it very funny at all, and felt that it’s efforts at humor at times felt like beating a dead horse to death. We enjoyed everything else we saw this season, but to us this was a loser.

  17. dan says:

    really just not all the exciting. sort of a disappointment.

  18. Paul Buttenwieser says:

    We enjoyed “Romance” for its hilarity and absurdity and Will Lebow’s fabulous (even for him) over-the-top performance.

  19. kt says:

    after wiping the tears of laughter from my cheeks I immediately went home and stuck a tomato up my ass.

    thanks prezbo and lebow
    and the entire cast for a great show!

  20. Via Smarrita says:

    LeBow was the whole show, I thought. I am a huge fan of the ART ensemble in general, but I was surprised that the pace was often less than crisp, with the sole and clarion exception of LeBow whose timing, as these comments repeatedly note, was brilliant. The pauses fell far short of good Pinter/Mamet expressionistic silence. I don’t know quite what to make of this. Perhaps the director was stranded uncomfortably between pure Mamet-land deadpan and true stage farce (Noises Off), both of which this pieces aspires to be. It’s true, too, as someone notes above, that it doesn’t quite hold together (despite the unifying loop back to “Bunny”) and feels cobbled together, less than organic. As a text, it is so-so by the high standards of Mamet, a superb writer who needs to recall what the brilliant Ray Allen of the Celtics always reminds us: “you’re never as good as you think you are.” He may be suffering from the widespread problem that no one is really shocked by anything any more (a problem nicely addressed by the film The Aristocrats, which actually did manage to shock). I was delighted to see such a large and responsive audience–laughing a bit too hard, yes, but it’s fun to laugh, and why not. But while laughing–and I laughed a great deal–I was also feeling a certain anxiety for the ART, poised on the brink of a new season that looks radically new and (as ever, therefore, for Boston) very risky. Bringing downtown hip to suburbia? Will it work? I ask this as a stalwart whose attendance dates back to the notorious and magnificent Lulu. Good luck!

  21. Kris says:

    Trying too hard to be funny never is funny. One of my friends fell asleep for much of the play, and I envied her. Jokes were tired, attempts to be scandalous were ho-hum for this jaded audience. Nudity diverting, though – thank you, Mr. Foreman!

    • Fredia Woolf says:

      Your post resonated with me. I struggled to stay awake in this trite, tedious play filled with tired formulas and slapstick humor. With all the build up about how iconoclastic this was going to be, I expected at least some originality or trenchant humor, but the only thing that was offended was my intelligence. What on earth was David Mamet thinking when he wrote this drivel?

  22. E. Treadwell says:

    Great performances! Wonderful politically incorrect humor. Fun and funny!

    We DO laugh – even when it is not correct to do so – so why does the media chide the president for laughing when the humor he hears is not “correct”? Funny is funny and while we all have our own sense of humor, it seems to me that we all have the right to laugh when something tickles us, whether it is “right” or “wrong”.

    Certainly there are people for whom this play was not funny – ’tis their right not to laugh – but ’tis not their right to tell others that they should not ( laugh,
    that is).

  23. Jonthan says:

    Impeccable timing. Loved the observations about lying and law school and also the one about not choosing to work on your ow teeth in the dentist’s chair.

  24. Kiki says:

    Loved it … thank you to the entire cast for a fun-filled evening. Each character had his own great moments. Thank you ART for choosing this Mamet play to share with your audience.

  25. Pam Wylie says:

    We loved it and found the “no sacred cows” script and the amazing performance of Will Lebow hillarious. I am curious why Mamet chose to not include any women in the cast and not many references to women in the conversations either.

  26. Sara Lee Silberman says:

    With all the plays out there that could be performed, why ART chose to put on Mamet’s silly, inconsequential, cliche’d piece is totally beyond me. It is hard to believe that a theatre in Cambridge would insult – and bore – its audience with such trivial nonsense.

  27. AB says:

    I found the play to be tedious and boring at best. I love Mamet and Romance was not his signature style. Tired jokes, unsophisticated stabs at racism, sexism, etc. Just trying to hard and not gaining any ground. Very, very disappointing. I never look at my watch while watching a play and couldn’t wait for the 1.5 hours to be over!!!

  28. Michael Patrick Rutter says:

    A great deal of fun … I love it when the actors are having as much fun on stage as the audience is having. It is rare to get that kind of immediate, raw connection in the anonymous Web 2.0 world. Ah, intimacy in a town as cold and often careless as Boston. And right now, we need some comic relief. And plus … perhaps not a big secret … as shown by the stellar performances of Endgame (and now Romance) … the ART does a grand job at high-brow intelligent comedy. Keep it up.

  29. Ellen Munley says:

    Delightfl escape…a riotous, raucous romp in the realm of laughter!

  30. Michele says:

    As Mamets go, this was a disappointment, in spite of a wonderful performance by Will LeBow. The script seemed like an extended sketch, without enough of an arc (or point) to carry two acts. I also found the elaborate set a bit of a distraction. Its realism took away from the wordplay that Mamet is so good at…..

  31. Tom says:

    I attended “Romance” in the wake of seeing SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of “Jerry Springer-the Opera”; both are hilarious equal-opportunity offenders! And both are very clever at generating low humor within a “high” context: in the case of “Jerry Springer,” dysfunctional losers bare their souls (and peccadillos) in bonafide bel canto style; and in “Romance,” the shameless insults and non-sequiturs fly within the the confines of a stately courtroom. How wonderfully cathartic to be in the company of such capable farceurs, laughing our collective head off–especially at a time like this!

  32. Vicki says:

    I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time! A friend of mind said she doesn’t like David Mamet! How can you not enjoy this kind of wordplay? Equal opportunity insults and defamations — we loved it!

  33. Roy says:

    Funny yes. I love the ART for the variety, and it is great to see a silly play so well done.

    I immediately emailed an attorney friend, hope he brings his friend who was recently appointed to the bench.

  34. Molly Faulkner says:

    We laughed at much of what LeBow had to say, a wonderful actor with great lines — except for two things: the sexual abuse of his daughter and his being gay — what’s that about? The first is certainly nothing to laugh about and the second wasn’t necessary, frankly. The rest of the play would have collapsed without LeBow — it seemed unedited.

  35. valya says:

    laughed so hard, loved the play and as always the talk afterwards…the dramaturge and actors were really grreat in bringing the whole expereince together…

  36. Steve Locke says:

    We hated it and left at the intermission.
    And we love Mamet. We couldn’t understand why people were laughing some of the time.
    I was surprised to see how many people have left positive comments here.

  37. Marc says:

    I found the play disappointing although the actor playing the judge was good. The play was disjointed and plot seemed forced. I would not recommend it to anyone.

  38. Elias Paige says:

    The play definitely had its share of laughs to go around. Thanks to the fellow playing the judge there was a lot. As for the rest of the ensemble, they seemed generally affected, and.., well, just general. The fat man was generally high pitched, quiet, and physically beset upon by some generalized inner turmoil of guilt. All of the characters were guilty of something, so choose something more interesting to play. The defense attorney seemed mentally disengaged for a lot of the performance. The prosecuting attorney thought general haughtiness was a good substitute for true reactive expression, and his bunny was just generally gay, perhaps the only part of the performance offensive to me. Those faggy cliches are the easiest way to phone in a performance and to make me bored as all hell. If you’re going to try and play a queen, make it your own at least. Your crocodile tears were neither clearly meant to be fake, nor clearly meant to be real, and as a result they seemed generally to simply allocate bad acting.

    As for Mamet, he did some funny things. He kind of phoned in this play though. I could have done without all the scenes outside of the courtroom. The scene between the defense attorney and the client where they go back and forth (“jew!” “christian!” “jew” “christian!”) was a lame attempt at controversy. If you want to be controversial try maybe to bring something new to the table if you’re going to use a topic thats been around for 2 millennia. This play doesn’t deserve to be called offensive or controversial. Edgy, maybe. Testy, definitely. It made me both those things.

    If this is the kind of thing that can be billed as controversial, and some guy has to come out before the play and make his subtle warnings and apologies, then this is the type of the thing that holds back the theatre. It wants to be labeled and packaged and sold to us as something that its not, because thats all its got.

    I do love going to the theatre though. None of this is to say I hated it. And I did laugh a lot. But Jesus CHRIST lord in FUCKING heaven do I believe that the bar can and should be raised higher.

  39. TerryB says:

    The actor playing the judge was hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable. BTW was Shakespeare Jewish????

  40. Dr. Alden G. Lank says:

    This is the first ART producton my wife and I have attended. It was marvellously acted elicited many laughs from us. The acoustics were fine (I was worried as I am hard of hearing). Bravo to all the members of the ensemble.

  41. Janet says:

    so funny – a great way to end the season on a high note

  42. Mary says:

    Skilful acting, but the play was disappointing. It seemed like the same three jokes again and again (funny the first time, amusing the second, and irritating thereafter); the “offensiveness” was thoroughly hollow because we (or at least I) didn’t care about or believe in the people uttering it; and the advertising of the offensiveness was puerile. I’ve enjoyed ART productions in the past, but this was a low point.

  43. Carolyn G says:

    In a current world of chaotic headlines and despair, there has never been a better time for farce and/or political comedy. Though I might have done some editing on ROMANCE since I am a successful writer, I loved the zany performances and good acting by Will Lebow and Thomas Derrah, in particular. For Mamet, ROMANCE is somewhat over the top, but so what. We need to rejoice in our common humanity, laugh at our personal idiosyncrasies, and realize just how ridiculous some of our long-standing global wars continue to be. I really enjoyed ROMANCE and am glad I could see it and laugh. . . Good ending for this year’s subscription series. . .Thanks.

  44. Andy says:

    We thought it was very amusing and light – a bit of puff pastry. A couple of the lines made you wince but all in all, it was great to be able to laugh at the obvious idiocity of the characters’ points of view.

    Will Lebow was fabulous. He seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

    The play had no message but who cares? If ART can provide this type of harmless escape once a season, either here or at Zero Arrow, I’m resubscribing.

  45. Lisa M. says:

    My sister and I (both in our 30s) attended the performance on Saturday matinee; we are subscribers. Both of us were excited to see the show even though we knew very little about it, except that it was a farce and politically incorrect.

    I was seated next to an elderly gentleman and his wife. Before the performance began, I looked around the audience and quietly said to my sister, “We are attending the show with a predominently older crowd…I wonder how it will be received.” She shrugged, unsure as well.

    The play began and it was clear the audience was having a great time…my sister and I included!

    At intermission, another elderly couple walked past the couple sitting next to me. They exchanged hellos; it was clear that they were friends. The male friend gestured with a wave of his hand to come closer and said to the gentleman next to me, “Let me tell you something”. The elderly gentleman next to me leaned forward. Without missing a beat, his friend whispered, “F**k you.” They both broke into chuckles.

    I almost lost it! I had to turn away so they wouldn’t know I had evesdropped on this hilarious exchange. I turned to my sister and told her what happened. She started laughing too. I told her that I guess I didn’t have to worry about the older crowd in the audience!

    And the play was great too! đŸ™‚

  46. Lisa Foley says:

    We had the best time! The cast is wonderful. I was a little disapointed that the Irish didn’t get their chops busted (I was warned we didn’t), but I can always get that elsewhere in Boston…

  47. Judy says:

    Funny, light, and slapstick. nothing subtle here and that was perfect. I left laughing.

  48. Barbara S. Cheresh says:

    I laughed despite my better judgment.some of the remarks were painful to hear, still smarting I laughed. It was never boring and emotionally involving no matter how out- landish the situations.
    Thank you for a riotous and thought provoking evening.

  49. Bob Kittredge says:

    Remo and Will were especially good. ROFLMAO

  50. Robert Feder says:

    Very funny and entertaining! We need more stuff like this and a lot less Chekhov.

  51. Paul says:

    Not one of Mamet’s great works, but we had a good giggle and many loud guffaws!! Just what we needed!

    Yes, it was offensive — but that was the point. The ensemble was terrific and pulled it off beautifully.

    We are looking forward to the next production.

  52. Liz says:

    Great comic timing, pretty basic Mamet – it’s always nice to see the actors settle into a run and watch how their timing polishes the material. The cheese sandwich argument built spectacularly – excellent work, there! I was surprised that audience members were offended – this isn’t really a challenging play, at heart; more clowning that doesn’t stray too far outside the boundaries.

  53. podo says:

    It was a sitcom — funny, but hardly up to ART standards. But then, what is, nowadays? Sure, the acting was terrific, as it always is, and the set was wonderful, as ART sets usually are, but the play was mediocre, as ART plays increasingly are. Offensive? Please — who cares? The play didn’t have enough intellectual depth to be offensive.

    It was a pleasant hour’s entertainment, nothing more, funny, but shallow. ART can do better. And, I should add, Mamet is overrated, and his “ear for dialog” is very overrated. He’s just not a very good writer.

  54. Wendy says:

    I loved it. I didn’t waste any time worrying about the “offensiveness” because it was just too ridiculous to be offensive. Will Lebow was wonderful, timing was great and the whole thing played like a Marx Bros. movie.

  55. Chris Wales says:

    My wife and I attended last Saturday’s matinee, and I must say, after seeing other Mamet works, expected something a bit different. That being said, our funnybones were tickled sufficiently that we were cracking up over much of the production. There were some wonderful lines(some repeated to excess), and we enjoyed this a lot! Not with anywhere near the philosophical gravitas of a “Waiting For Godot”, but we weren’t disappointed, for we didn’t expect that kind of stuff!
    It’s kind of refreshing that Mamet has taken a bit of a detour from his usual writing, although, aside from the judge, we found the acting to be a bit on the antic side. Overall, an enjoyable affair!

  56. Eric McNulty says:

    We left at intermission having found the first half to be mildly amusing at best. Somehow the once skillful Mamet now feels a string of f-bombs constitutes pithy dialog. I less bothered by the language than by the sheer stupidity of it all. Great farce combines absurdity with sympathy; Romance offered only mediocrity.

    The set, however, was quite wonderful and Will Lebow was amusing (though he was asked to milk the allergy bit far beyond the point at which any life was left in it).

  57. Dorrie Kehoe says:

    Absolutely ridiculous. No theme. No point. A fifth grade boy enchanted with the many uses of F–K could have written this. A total waste of time and money.

    We left after the first act, and as the man leaving behind us commented, “There must have been a terrific line in that act; I just can’t think of it.”

  58. A says:

    I just wasn’t in the mood, I guess. I laughed during the first act at times, but left at intermission. I’m reading a really good, engaging book and couldn’t wait to get back to it. I went next door, ordered a hot chocolate, and read for an hour. I love some of the actors in the company, just wasn’t pulled in by the content this time.

  59. Fred Cohen says:

    The acting was great, the set was wonderful, the script had some good moments that were quite funny, but was uneven. The video scroll in the lobby that listed those insulted was generally fairly accurate, but at times the audience should have also been included in the list. Will was great. The only line I remember was “We don’t eat cheese sandwiches because THEY TASTE BAD!)

  60. Abby Hansen says:

    Puerile. Just a bunch of “mommy shockers.” I’m a mommy and I wasn’t shocked–or particularly amused. Give me some substance, not just name calling and semi-nudity.

  61. vicki & ash says:

    It has been a while since we have attended a play at ART — and longer since we have had the absolute pleasure of seeing Will LeBow on stage. I am only sorry the run is about to end and I haven’t the time to spread the word to our friends and colleagues about his absolutely wonderful, terrifically funny performance. Will was masterful — his performance was sooo right and was dead on for timing and a superb characterization. We’ve missed his work and I plan to make sure I know where and when he’ll be on stage again. Thanks, Will. We had a great evening.

  62. Lucinda says:

    I really wanted to like this play and I did laugh out loud here and there. The ensemble was tight and Will Lebow so much fun to watch. The set up work with the ensemble was great, but then it didn’t take me anywhere. I kept waiting for – I know not what…

    I had recently watched the Mamet movie “State and Main” and was anticpated a wild ride. I couldn’t quite catch the wave.

  63. blade says:

    I thought it was bad. Bad Mamet and uninteresting. Particularly for $75

  64. Gerri C says:

    I bought tickets to this play because I gave my friend the choice of this play or a movie (plus dinner) in celebration of her birthday. She chose the play. The reason I didn’t really want to attend was because I am not a fan of Will Lebow. HOWEVER, this play made me do a “180” on my opinion of Will, and I think he has finally found his niche. He is definitely a comedic actor. I thought the play was amusing, but not as amusing as the acting performances from the ensemble members of the cast. I’ve seen better from Mamet, but a great production over all, given what the cast had to work with. I admit I did enjoy the global irreverence and found it refreshing. Everyone got a chance to laugh at themselves (or hopefully, anyway)!

  65. mmcewen says:

    who knew politically incorrect could be tastefully funny!
    loved it!
    definately not deep or overly intellectual, but a deffinate good time!

  66. David P. says:

    The cast was fantastic.

    The play itself was disappointing. The second act has some moments of brilliance; with careful editing it could offer up 15-20 minutes of hysterical farce to be embedded in some larger work. But as a whole it lacked either structure or force; it just kinda flailed around, returning to the same somewhat tired gags over and over.

  67. KRS says:

    This is one of Mamet’s weakest plays, a mediocre slapstick farce that couldn’t be sustained by excellent direction and for the most part very good acting. Where are the linguistic contortions of yesteryear, the cold eye cast on human frailty and foolishness?

  68. Shirley says:

    We really like Mamet, we really like the ART, we really didn’t like this. It was laborious, dated, tiresome. After it was over I felt so sorry for myself for having to sit through it all I had to go out and eat a dessert.

    Other people were laughing, though.

  69. Doug says:

    This was horrific. How can this be classified as a serious work of art? I felt like I was watching I Love Lucy. I never cracked a smile once. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough to understand it.

  70. Audrey says:

    Such a GREAT show. We loved it and we’re so glad we did not miss this show. Hilarious!

  71. ERS says:

    I did laugh here and there, but it’s not too difficult to make me laugh–here and there. Overall, disappointed with the content. What was the point? Caricatures become more than caricatures (in a constructive, thought provoking sense), if they channel something…a point, a truth. Even improv theater can do that. The cast was great, the stage set wonderful…the opportunity was lost.

    Perhaps a telling point about the humor….it takes a couple of people that cackle out loud and sigh breathlessly to give the sense that all of us were enjoying the piece equally. In the section I sat in, there was more silence and “hmmms” than anything else. Awkward…but I guess that’s interactive theater, too.

  72. Lenn says:

    My wife and I and the couple we attended with are older and well-experienced theatre-goers. We thought Will Lebow’s performance was excellent ans rescued us from a boring first act. The play itself was, given it included some great one-liners, was filled with trite and hacneyed subjects and seemed geared to titilate rather than provoke. Our advice to Mamet was that he should stick to comedy!

  73. Wendy G says:

    My friend and I were very disappointed. Why ART decided to produce such a piece of trash, I don’t know. Sure, I laughed, in spite of myself. They catered to the lowest common denominator. The judge and foreman were excellent, though, and played off each other well.

  74. Jeanne says:

    I thought the actors did a good job, but I really couldn’t see why this was considered funny. I did not find myself laughing very much and it was tedious to sit through. I kept wondering “what’s the point”, besides being vague.

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