‘Subject Was Roses’ to replace ‘Speed-the-Plow’ at Mark Taper Forum

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The much anticipated revival of David Mamet’s ‘Speed-the-Plow’ at the Mark Taper Forum has been officially taken off the schedule for the 2010 season.

Center Theatre Group had originally announced that ‘Speed-the-Plow’ was to open the Taper’s 2010 season in February. Instead, the company said today that a revival of Frank D. Gilroy’s ‘The Subject Was Roses,’ starring Martin Sheen, Frances Conroy and Brian Geraghty, will take its place. Geraghty played a member of a military team charged with defusing explosives in ‘The Hurt Locker.’

Michael Ritchie, the artistic director of Center Theatre Group, said that ‘Speed-the-Plow’ is ‘probably postponed’ and that the company has made no official decision about it yet. Ritchie added that the Mamet play will likely be ‘back on my desk’ when the time comes to plan the next season.

When asked why ‘Speed-the-Plow’ was pulled at such a late date, Ritchie replied: ‘The reason is because the opportunity to do ‘The Subject Was Roses’ with Martin Sheen came up.’


He later added that work on ‘Speed-the-Plow’ was ‘far enough along that we had to make a decision but not so far that we couldn’t. If we didn’t complete the decision this week, we would have stayed with ‘Speed-the-Plow.’'

Neil Pepe, who was slated to direct ‘Speed-the-Plow,’ will stay on to direct ‘The Subject Was Roses,’ which will open Feb. 21.

Sheen’s history with Gilroy’s play dates back to the beginning of the actor’s career.

Sheen played the role of the son in the 1964 Broadway production of the play, for which he received a Tony nomination. He also starred in the Oscar-winning film version of the drama that was released in 1968.

For the Taper revival, Sheen will play the role of the father while Conroy will play his wife. Geraghty will play the son, a soldier who has just returned home from World War II and must contend with his parents’ smothering attention.

One of the presenting partners of “The Subject Was Roses” will be Sheen’s production company, Estevez Sheen Productions.

Center Theatre Group said that Sheen initially approached the company about doing the play. The company had been talking with Sheen for some time about doing it and it became clear a little more than a month ago that the actor would be free, according to Ritchie.

‘Speed-the-Plow’ recently had a Broadway revival directed by Pepe and starring Jeremy Piven, who withdrew part of the way through the run, citing mercury poisoning. He was replaced by a succession of actors, including William H. Macy.

The Taper’s production was expected to be a close approximation, if not identical to the recent Broadway revival. No casting had been officially announced for ‘Speed-the-Plow.’

-- David Ng


Raves (mostly) for Jeremy Piven, ‘Speed-the-Plow’