Early preview performances of a play aren’t typically covered by reporters and critics, who are usually polite enough, or at least bound by journalistic ethics, to wait until a production is closer to opening night to pounce and devour.
But when a play involves Lindsay Lohan in a career comeback bid, the rules of the media game have a way of changing quickly.
Lohan gave her first performance in a new production of David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow” on London’s West End on Wednesday. The Hollywood satire, running at the Playhouse Theatre, also stars Richard Schiff and Nigel Lindsay, and is directed by Mamet veteran Lindsay Posner.
A number of media have already weighed in on Lohan’s performance, breaking the usual theater-world decorum of waiting until the play officially opens. The reports noted that Lohan appeared to struggle through the performance, fumbled lines at certain points and relied on cues from backstage crew members.
Botched lines and missed cues are not uncommon during preview performances of a play. For Lohan, however, the public scrutiny is more intense than usual as she attempts to put her troubled past behind her and relaunch her acting career.
“Speed-the-Plow,” which debuted in 1988, is a caustic look at the movie industry through the eyes of two shark-like studio executives. Lohan plays Karen, the unassuming assistant to one of the executives and someone who may be more than what she seems.
The Daily Beast reported that during Wednesday’s performance, Lohan received a few audible prompts from backstage, and that her flubbed lines prompted unintentional laughter at various points in the performance. But in the end, “this was no car crash. If Lohan can nail her lines in the coming days, this somewhat pedestrian interpretation of the Mamet classic certainly could find its stride.”
A report in the New York Daily News observed that “Lohan managed to hang on through her small but critical role as Hollywood secretary Karen — but only with the aid of some crew members offstage who shouted lines at her when she blanked on what she was supposed to say. She also seemed to rely on a book she clutched as a prop that had some lines from the script scribbled in it.”
Vulture filed a report noting that Lohan wasn’t the only cast member who needed help with lines: “Richard Schiff, who has far more experience, called out, ‘Give me the line, please,’ within minutes of starting the play. British actor Nigel Lindsay was the only person in the three-actor play to get through the entire performance without an audible prompt.”
“Speed-the-Plow” is set to open officially on Oct. 2 and will run through Nov. 29.