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The second half of Two Unrelated Plays
, Keep Your Pantheon
, transports the audience back to an ancient Rome that is decidedly more modern in tone and subject matter than any barbarian-conquering capital of an empire you might read about in the history books. Aside from the sets (think thatched roofs and cartoon-ish painted-on Doric columns), costumes (togas!), and a few turns of phrase here and thereâ�‚��€œmost notably the constant invocation of "the gods": whether cursing them or praising them, there is a lot of bothâ�‚��€œthe dialogue might have been culled from any modern troupe of actors. Raucous Weinberg-esque live drum solos punctuated the end of each scene and change, signaling the appearance of a Herald (a very animated Steven Hawley) to introduce the next one in a very Shakespearean manner, but not before slipping in a quick advertisement for some Ancient Roman product in a tired wink at media infiltration of the arts and product placement. Despite this passing commentary on the modern funding problems that theater faces, essentially, this play is about actors.
exaggerates the shitty life of the stage actor, the thankless work and the terrible (or non-existent) pay. The play follows a troupe of actors and their quest for fame, if one can really call a very old, washed up child actor, his practical yet unambitious friend, and their young protege and object of sexual desire a full team of players. The play works as a celebration of, and cynical essay on the actor's craft, but could surely have done without one of its most prominent and recurring features: gay jokes.
I was unsure if the title, Keep Your Pantheon
, was simply a little darling of a pun that Mamet didn't have the guts to murder
or if it was actually a call to the head of the troupe, Strabo (the ever versatile and sonorous Brian Murphy), to keep it in his pants. The play was not yet five minutes old when a pauper (who, spoiler alert, turns out to be the savior of the troupe) comes around selling "charms" from some forgotten war and pulls out a ten inch wooden dildo and a string of carved wooden anal beads. And that's just the beginning: Mamet piles it on from there. I'm still not quite sure where he was heading with the gay jokes, as I waited for something to provide some relevant context for them, but it never came (no pun intended).