Sunday, May 30, 2010

Art & Culture: The Trials of Roderick Spode by David Mamet

There is only one thing really compelling about The Trials of Roderick Spode (Sourcebooks) and that’s the name of the spine. That is, it would be the name on the spine if the book were thick enough to have one. But the name, in our culture, is legendary and certainly spine-worthy: David Mamet. Yes that David Mamet -- after all, there can only be one -- Speed-the-Plow, Glengarry Glenross, Wag the Dog and so much else: Mamet is playwright, screenwriter, essayist, film director. And now the Pulitzer prize winner and recipient of the New York Drama Critic’ Circle Award is a graphic novel author, or something very like it.

The Trials of Roderick Spode “The Human Ant” is silly and not as sparkly as might be expected, considering who is involved. One’s first impression is of a children’s book -- the format begs that idea -- but this is certainly not one for the kids.

Considering the fact that Mamet is one of our leading storytellers, The Trials of Roderick Spode seems even more of a disappointment: the story isn’t strong. An ordinary man gets technologically mixed up and ends up spending half his time as The Human Ant who spars with his nemisis, European Sourdough Rye. The medium demands that it be a visual story, yet when Mamet is at his acerbic best, no pictures are required: every Mamet syllable seems drenched with meaning.

If you were hoping for something slightly meatier than The Trials of Roderick Spode from Mamet, don’t despair: the Mamet manifesto, Theatre, was published by Faber & Faber about a month ago. Some of the author's conclusions about the state of American theatre will set the teeth of some readers on edge. But isn’t that, after all, what we expect from David Mamet?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the connection to Wodehouse's Roderick Spode?

- Mack Hall

Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 8:05:00 AM PST  

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