Song & Stage

Hampton Theatre Company Kicks Off 2016 Season with David Mamet’s ‘November’

Hampton Theatre Company (HTC) is kicking off its 2016-17 season with David Mamet’s November, a hilarious and scathingly satirical take on American presidential politics, on Thursday, October 20, at the Quogue Community Hall. The play is running through November 6.

November drops in on first-term U.S. President Charles Smith in the final week before election day. While his party affiliation is neither clear nor relevant, one thing seems certain: This egomaniacal and irredeemably venal politician has no chance of winning reelection. With approval ratings near zero and abandoned by his reelection committee, President Smith has run out of money and his wife is preparing to move out of the White House.

Still, he hasn’t given up, and he sees a glimmer of hope when the Turkey Representative comes calling at the White House seeking the traditional Presidential pardon of the Thanksgiving turkey. But in order to make the biggest deal of his presidency, Chuck will need all the help he can get from his chief of staff, Archer Brown; his brilliant speechwriter, Clarice Bernstein; and Chief Dwight Grackle of the Micmac Nation.

Premiering on Broadway in 2008, November remains eerily relevant in this 2016 election season. With Mamet’s trademark no-holds-barred, politically incorrect and profanity-laden style, the laugh-out-loud comedy is a caustic characterization of the egomania and moral elasticity that infect too many politicians, and the kind of power-madness that’s a danger in any elected official.

In a review of the Broadway production in The Guardian (London), November was classified as “a savage farce,” with David Mamet “in contention for the title of America’s best living playwright.” USA Today called the play “punchline packed,” while The Times (London) described it as “a raucous comedy.”

In a review in The New Yorker, John Lahr wrote: “At once a barbarian, a bully, and an idiot … Smith brings oxygen to Mamet’s rhetorical brilliance—so much so that Mamet seems almost giddy with pleasure as he makes his cretinous creation squirm.”

The cast of November features four Hampton Theatre Company veterans and one newcomer. Playing Charles Smith is longtime HTC company member Andrew Botsford, last seen as Vanya in the 2016 production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Matthew Conlon, last on the HTC stage in Clybourne Park and Hay Fever in 2015, has the role of chief of staff Archer Brown.

Rebecca Edana, who played, most recently, Bella in HTC’s 2016 production of Lost in Yonkers, is head speechwriter Clarice Bernstein. Matthew O’Connor, last on the Quogue stage in HTC’s Bus Stop in 2008, plays the Turkey Representative, and newcomer Rob Byrnes has the role of Dwight Grackle.

Matthew Conlon, Andrew Botsford and Rebecca Edana
Matthew Conlon, Andrew Botsford and Rebecca Edana, Photo: Tom Kochie

Playwright David Mamet is a prolific and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, author, screenwriter and director. As a playwright he most famous for his 1982 play Glengarry Glen Ross (produced by the Hampton Theatre Company in 2008). The play won him the Pulitzer Prize for drama as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and he later adapted it for the big screen version, starring Hamptonite Alec Baldwin, which earned Mamet an Academy Award nomination.

Mamet’s other plays include American Buffalo, Oleanna, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Duck Variations, Boston Marriage, Race and The Anarchist, among others. He has also written screenplays for more than 20 films.

His work is characterized by dark themes played out by often desperate characters who veer from the truth to manipulate others for their own selfish ends. Mamet’s trademark rapid-fire dialogue is distinguished by its colloquial diction, interruptions and thick swarms of obscenities, and is written with a precise rhythm in mind.

HTC Artistic Director Diana Marbury directs. Set design is by Sean Marbury; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

November runs at the Quogue Community Hall from October 20–November 6 with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. There will also be an additional matinee performance of November on Saturday, November 5, at 2:30 p.m.

The Hampton Theatre Company will again be offering special dinner and theater packages in collaboration with the Hampton Bays, and Quogue libraries. Information about the dinner and theater packages is available at hamptontheatre.org, or through the libraries.

To reserve tickets, visit hamptontheatre.org, or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

New this season, the HTC is offering $15 discount tickets for audience members 35 and under, and an additional matinee performance on the final weekend of the production, on Saturday, November 5, at 2:30 p.m., prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening.

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