David Mamet's Oleanna, when treated with even half of the passion and smarts evident in Max Pearl's blistering Pinecrest Rep production, is an exhilarating play. It's chock full of big ideas that hurtle across the stage, fueled by the audience's contempt nay, hatred of a student named Carol, and morally redeemed by the fact that Carol cannot quite be blamed for her stupidity. Rather, her dumb, brute malice seems congenital.
Pinecrest Rep performs at the Banyon Bowl a domed amphitheater, open to the air on one side, in the middle of Pinecrest Gardens. Oleanna's modest set is flanked by trees and greenery, and the dialogue is punctuated every now and again by the screaming of peacocks. The air is hot, and like the air in all green places in mid-May Florida, has a soupy consistency. (Woe to Greg Schroeder, who spends the play in long sleeves and a tie.) In Bertha Leal's better moments, you forget the hot, wet air, and shiver.
Sat., May 22, 2 p.m.; Sun., May 23, 2 p.m.; Sat., May 29, 2 p.m., 2010