Paroled: David Mamet's The Anarchist, With Patti LuPone and Debra Winger, Closes on Broadway Dec. 16

By Adam Hetrick
December 16, 2012

The short-lived Broadway world premiere of Tony Award-nominated and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet's two-woman drama The Anarchist, starring Patti LuPone as an inmate serving a life sentence and Debra Winger as the woman who must determine whether she is fit for parole, ends its Broadway run Dec. 16 after after 23 previews and 17 performances at the John Golden Theatre.



Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, Oleanna, Speed-the-Plow) also directed the cerebral, 70-minute piece that began previews Nov. 13 and officially opened Dec. 2. Critics were not taken with the slow-burning drama that takes a look at the state of America's prison system and the volatile ideas that keep some individuals there.

Producers Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Howard and Janet Kagan, who are also presenting the lucrative Broadway revival of Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, starring Al Pacino and Bobby Cannavale, announced Dec. 4 that The Anarchist would shutter Dec. 16, two months prior to the scheduled end of its limited run of Feb. 17, 2013.

"This is truly truly among the most challenging things I've ever done. It was one of the hardest things to memorize. It's really ideas David is presenting as two sides of an argument," LuPone told Playbill.com in a recent interview. "These are cerebral arguments and they're legitimate arguments facing people in prison today. I don't think the performance will ever be incendiary because it might diffuse the argument. The fireworks are in the language. Come in, and sit down, and listen. Let the play do the work, and let the play work on you."

Debra Winger
photo by Joan Marcus

"Where else do we have left for polemics in the world?" Winger added. "The news is all canned. There's no real information being discussed. David is almost polemical in that way. He will bring both sides of an argument so that we can all reach the bigger question. And that's what I'm looking to do. Is to balance Patti's argument, so that everyone can walk out of the theatre, not with an opinion, but with a bigger question."

Read the Playbill Magazine feature here.

According to producers, "LuPone plays the title character and Winger plays a prison official. These actresses will make theatrical fireworks as one character, put away for life, wants out while the other wants to make sure she stays inside. This explosive new work by Mamet is about passion, redemption, deception, and revolution."

LuPone, a Tony Award winner for Evita and Gypsy, has a long history with Mamet. The two first worked together on his drama The Woods in 1977. LuPone's Mamet appearances also include The Water Engine, Edmond, The Old Neighborhood and the film "State and Main." (LuPone will also be part of Playbill's third Broadway on the High Seas cruise, which sets sail Aug. 4, 2013, from Stockholm, Sweden.)

The Anarchist marked Winger's Broadway debut. She is a three-time Academy Award nominee for "Terms of Endearment," "Shadowlands" and "An Officer and a Gentleman." Her stage appearances include The Exonerated, How I Learned to Drive and Ivanov.

The Anarchist had scenic and costume design by Academy Award winner Patrizia Von Brandenstein and lighting by Tony Award winner Jeff Croiter. The premiere was produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Howard and Janet Kagan.

Visit theanarchistbroadway.com. The Golden Theatre is located at 252 West 45th Street.

Watch a press conference featuring LuPone and Winger: