The Old Neighborhood

By:David Mamet
Director:Scot Zigler
Sets:Kevin Rigdon
Costumes:Harriet Voyt
Lighting:John Ambrosone
Opened:11/97 at the Booth Theater
Cast:Peter Riegert, Patti LuPone, Vincent Guastaferro, Jack Willis and Rebecca Pidgeon

David Mamet's heart-wrenching new play focuses on baby boomers with shared pasts who yearn for a sense of safety, order and human connection. It's actually a trio of accessible vignettes linked by the voice of one man visiting the town in which he grew up. (Though it's never named, the locale is clearly Mamet's hometown, Chicago.) At the evening's center is Bobby Gould (Riegert), the author's alter ego, who's more given to listening than talking. In “The Disappearance of the Jews,” Bobby is visited by his one-time best pal (Guastaferro); “Jolly” finds Bobby in the home of the title character, his sister (LuPone in a stunning performance) and her husband (Willis). The concluding and most oblique segment, “Deeny,” portrays the last moments of a reunion between Bobby and his former lover (Pidgeon, Mamet's wife). Haunting and original, the playlets converge the wistfulness, wit and fearfulness typical of Mamet's work, and the 90 intermissionless minutes are deftly directed by Zeigler. To visit The Old Neighborhood is to enter a suspended world in which love, religion and family endure. It's downright heartening.