Anchored In A Reality That Lets No One Escape

I find director Joseph Watts’ take on this story very much in the creative vein of what ETC is known for--intimate and emotionally engaging dissections of the human condition. He was the perfect candidate to helm our first David Mamet production. Mamet is a masterful and prolific American dramatist known for dialogue that is recklessly controlled more by emotion and less by thought. He constructs plots that paint realistic and ugly masterpieces of existence, and he does all of this anchored in a reality that lets no one escape. Seems like a Mamet and ETC are a match made in heaven, so why is this our first? I have found Mamet’s work to be misogynistic and sometimes gratuitous. I respect his contributions to American theatre and appreciate his considerable amount of talent, but could never find a play that spoke a message consistent with ETC’s values. THE PENITENT does, however. This Mamet play focuses on themes of morals, ethics, and marital commitment in a tense drama featuring Charles, a psychiatrist full of emotional vulnerability and moralistic naïveté, finds himself under public scrutiny when a newspaper publishes an article misquoting his psychological theory while connecting him to a mass shooting crime committed by one of his former patient--the patient coincidentally identifying as a homosexual. Kath, his wife, and Richard, his friend and lawyer pressure Charles to testify for the defense, Charles vehemently refuses. It is not until his deposition that we understand the true reasoning for Charles’ refusal and Mamet masterfully pits morals against ethics, science against religion, and ultimately husband against wife.