Atlantic Theater Company closes its season with 'Ghost Stories,'' an intimate revival of two haunting short plays by David Mamet. More…
'The Shawl' is the story of a bereaved woman who consults a small-time mystic for guidance. As the mystic collects clues to make contact with the dearly departed, will he help this woman through her grief, or merely help himself? In 'Prairie du Chien', a railroad car speeding through the Wisconsin night is the setting for a story of obsessive jealousy, murder and suicide, punctuated by a friendly card game that explodes into a moment of menace.
"A substantial, four-scene piece called 'The Shawl' and a curtain-raiser, 'Prairie du Chien'...Both contain the kind of dialogue one anticipates in Mamet's early work: it's elliptical, often cryptic, sometimes fragmentary, trailing off in vague phrases or into silence...The performances in 'Ghost Stories' are as stellar as one might hope to find. In 'Prairie du Chien', the tension builds, ebbs, and builds again to an explosion of violence that jangles playgoers' nerves as effectively as the c... Full Review
"Tightly directed by Scott Zigler, with an element of tension running throughout, the two tales pay tribute to the classic art form of storytelling. Both are well-executed and sure to send at least a few tingles up your spine. The art of storytelling may have changed somewhat over the centuries, but the basic premise is still alive and well." Full Review
"Perhaps because of its length, 'The Shawl' is the more memorable of the two, but both pieces, true to their collective title, are haunting works—superbly acted, and skillfully staged without artifice or extraneous ornamentation by director Scott Zigler. Vividly evocative of that queasy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you hear an unsettling tale, 'Ghost Stories' is eerily good theater. " Full Review
"They come across as minor works from a major dramatist...'Ghost Stories' should appeal both to audiences who like to hear a good tale on a drowsy summer’s day and to theatergoers interested in dissecting Mr. Mamet’s way with words, in identifying the method behind the verbal magic." Full Review
"Think of the two short David Mamet plays as summertime thrillers for the brain. Both 'Prairie du Chien' and 'The Shawl', being presented under the title 'Ghost Stories', want to conjure creepy feelings in theatergoers, and while heebie-jeebies may only come fitfully in Scott Zigler’s handsomely executed production, there are performances to savor." Full Review
"Neither 'Prairie du Chien' nor 'The Shawl' is new. Nor is either life-changing. For that matter, these works aren't profoundly terrifying...Still, they're not easy to scrub from your mind, and that gives them an imposing nature that their subject matter may not warrant at first blush." Full Review
"Although there is a gunshot warning when you enter the theater, these ghost stories are much more talk than action...The tale is somewhat disappointing as far as ghost stories go, but the way he tells it is hypnotic...The second play, 'The Shawl', is a bit more entertaining, even though it's the first one that has a gunshot." Full Review
"Although far from Mamet at his best, these short plays provide some decent chills...'The Shawl' is an intriguing, atmospheric piece...The curtain-raiser 'Prairie du Chien' is a far less substantial affair." Full Review
'Prairie du Chien' is the first of two early David Mamet one-act plays that comprise 'Ghost Stories.' It is the slighter of the two, both in length and dramatic impact. Its conceit and staging are striking but ultimately don’t add up to much...'The Shawl' is considerably more engaging...Zigler orchestrates the two narratives so that they complement each other yet keep their own space." Full Review
"'Ghost Stories' is neither earth-shatteringly good nor mind-numbingly terrible — it just is...There's an inherent problem with billing these two plays as Ghost Stories, in that neither of them is particularly scary...The best they can muster up here is a shrug." Full Review
See it if you love Mamet. PDC was disappointing, but The Shawl was fascinating. Both were well acted.
Don't see it if you require a fully engaging evening. PDC felt long; the tedious story recounted was talky and unconvincing. The train action was confusing.
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