The Harder They Come is based on the 1972 movie of the same name, which is itself (loosely) based on the true-life career of Ivanhoe "Rhygin" Martin — a Jamaican Robin Hood character of the 1940s who was celebrated as a folk hero even while on the run from the cops. Rhygin was not a notable musician, but by the time the film was made, it was natural to think of outlaw folk heroes as rock stars — this was long after Elvis Presley had ripped off his look and pose from Charlie Starkweather, after all. The Ivanhoe Martin of the film and musical simultaneously topped the Most Wanted List and the pop charts while bringing reggae music into the mainstream for the very first time.
By David Mamet. Through September 13. GableStage at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-445-1119; gablestage.com
David Mamet's '80s masterpiece follows two moral burnouts and a hapless temp through 24 hours of scheming, hope, and sex, as a film producer makes a last-ditch attempt to flee the rampant cynicism of Hollywood — and then thinks better of it. Smart, mean performances by Paul Tei and especially Gregg Weiner as coked-out and desperate studio execs will make you tremble and giggle at the same time. Decay and degradation have never been more fun than under Joe Adler's whip-quick direction.
This is Shakespeare's "traditional values" play, in which he bravely comes out in full-bore support of good Christian family structures and conservative social values. The message, more or less, is this: Independent women must be tamed, and the best way to do it is by torture. Sleep deprivation should be considered, as well as food deprivation. If that fails, tear up the bitches' clothes. Incidentally, The Taming of the Shrew was the inspiration for Kiss Me Kate, by famed trad-fam-values proponent Cole Porter.