Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Oleanna (Methuen Modern Plays)
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£10.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 11 September 2011
This play is an electrifying two-hander, set in an American university. Carol is a failing student who copies down all the notes in lectures but doesn't understand what they mean. John is the lecturer who makes his own rules and patronises his students. When he tries to fob Carol off with an A so she'll stop annoying him, she misinterprets his intentions. A seemingly innocent pat on the shoulder leads to a complaint of sexual harassment. What follows is a power struggle between the sexes, classes and generations. Carol and John argue over the use of language and the purpose of education.

One could be simplistic and say that this is Mamet just having a bash at feminists, but the play is about more than that. It raises some interesting questions about higher education. Should everybody go to college/university, even if they're clearly not suited to academic study? The title of the play refers to an idealised American colony which seemed perfect but dense forestation meant that it was impossible for the community to live there. Both John and Carol see university as being a perfect aspiration: Carol sees university as being the key to life and her chance of escape from the life she has at home.
John sees it as an opportunity to preach and covets the bourgeouis lifestyle of a lecturer with tenure.Both John and Carol are unsuited for university life and yet both will cling on to it.

In the premiere of the play, audiences cheered at the violent finale and shouted at Carol. However, though Carol may be the more obvious villain, there's a part of me that wonders whether John didn't deserve his fall from grace. For a start, the stage direction doesn't say whether the pat is intended as sexual or not; only that it's a pat on the shoulder. Throughout the play, John proves himself to be a patriarchal nightmare, preoccupied with appearances. Mamet plays with language and definitions: Carol gives John's actions and words one meaning, and he refutes that meaning.

I have given the play five stars for Mamet's gripping depiction of university and sexual politics but the play is not without faults. What some readers see as a tantalising ambiguity, others see as a frustrating vagueness. Neither the dialogue nor stage directions really betray what the characters are thinking: they debate in rhetoric. Without any indication of whether John had any sexual motive, the audience are forced to side with John. And Carol's jump from an inarticulate submissive girl in Act 1 to fully-fledged neo-feminist who spouts feminist rhetoric in Act 2, which is clearly set not long after Act 1, stretches credibility. Nevertheless, I see it as a misunderstanding which becomes a heated battle for power. The student overtakes the teacher and throws his teachings right back in his face.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 February 2014
The notes included before the play are brilliant. They seem to cover pretty much everything there is to say about it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 August 2005
It is easy to fall into the belief that Mamet's talent is all in the dialogue, because, yes he is a sharp talker, a wisecracking,sharp shooter - but beyond this, he trades in the currency of ideas. His language may well be of the every day, and anyone who has seen "Glengarry Glen Ross" will be familiar with the style, which is, in short, with no pause for thought, Harold Pinter with balls. But it is a disservice to say he is a writer who is all words and no action.
In "Oleanna" the central theme is familiar - that with great power, comes great responsibility. A two hander, this play is tight. There is nothing superfluous. John, a college professor on the brink of career success, is confronted by student Carol who, as inarticulate as she is, finds a way of forcing him to face the facts that his generation has let down those whom he has - at least an implicit- responsibility to. Between their two viewpoints the drama, and conflict, derives.
This play is awe inspiring in that Mamet is able to pull off, with such economical means, a story which will leave you questioning generational interecation, the legitimacy of higher education, the nature of where one's responsibilities lie, and a whole host of questions around semantics.
Whether one watches this as a performed stage play, or reads it, there is a small intake of breath each time Mamet manages to turn the screw- and while you may well pride yourself on knowing where the course of such drama leads, this will leave you breathless. Even after the climax of the action, you will be questioning both protganists points of view, and find both of them both innocent, and guilty...
A deeply provocative piece which will have you questioning your own assumptions and values again and again - surely there are few dramatists alive today that force one to confront the uncomfortable trtuhs which our PC vocabulary runs shy of?
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 February 2001
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.
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 September 2004
This play is simply brilliant.
It is a play precisely about language, about how it can be mis-applied and manipulated, twisted and misunderstood. The two characters, John and Carol, enter a battle of words, one that proves that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
It's simple structure and staging allows the language to take centre-stage, and it is this that keeps us gripped throughout. I recently saw the revival in the West-End starring Aaron Eckhart and Julia Stiles, and it was superb.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys intellectual drama that offers the audience a lot to think about.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 February 2013
Ordered this book that was and is still advertised and received a completely different edition to the one listed. We received an old musty second hand one, without any communication. We needed this particular edition for A level eng lit. Complained and got a refund saying that particular edition is out of stock. Why advertise something you haven't got then send something different - not good.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 September 2013
Did not know what to expect. The set of of three acts, all show completely different sides of the two characters used in the play. Would really recommend. Also, there are a few good monologues for anyone auditioning to drama schools etc.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 July 2012
Used as a preparation piece for a LAMDA exam. Very potent content.This is a very powerful play and my 16 year old daughter really got to use a strong mix of emotions when rehearsing the pieces that she and her teacher chose.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 September 2013
This the daughter required for her college work, came quite quick well packed and was exactly what it said.
She is very happy as it was for her lol, saved me walking around the shops looking for it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 November 2010
A great play: disturbing and provoking, edgy dialogue and complex undertones... Classic Mamet, or a great intro if new to his stuff.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)