16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A modern classic,
By A Customer
This review is from: Oleanna (Methuen Modern Plays) (Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Mamet's master-craftsmanship is never more in evidence than in this absorbing play. The seemingly staid, mundane setting of an all-American college campus provides a perfect contrast for the confrontation that is about to explode between the play's only two characters, a college lecturer and a student. Mamet pulls no punches, dealing head-on with issues like sexual politics, gender warfare and even the socio-economic divide, but the central theme is power, and the playwright meticulously weaves a frighteningly realistic scenario wherein power changes hands in almost-imperceptible ways, and the 'balance of power' becomes a real knife-edge! Mamet, a master of the language, uses it here to great effect, with machine-gun-like staccatto and short, punchy interchanges echoing the violence of the confrontation. His choice of the education system as a backdrop for the action is no accident, since the theme of power, besides being framed in terms of gender, is also explored in the educational context, via an examination of education as empowerment, the educator as a wielder of power (at least initially) and the student as vulnerable and powerless. The reader's emotions and sympathies are fully engaged at all times, and he or she is likely to be left feeling harrowed and torn - but definitely educated.