I love Al Pacino so when my
dinner plans were cancelled at the last minute, I decided to check out David
Mamet’s new play, “China Doll,” on
the recommendation of a friend.
I expected fine acting and a
thought-provoking play from Mamet, but with the exception of a few clever lines
that drew audience applause especially in reference to politicians, the ranting
from Pacino’s unlikable, white-haired old character mostly put me to
sleep. Not Pacino’s fault entirely. At
two plus hours, the script was repetitive and Pacino is basically in monologue
mode. There’s only one other actor on stage with him who serves as his
ambitious but milquetoast aid. As great an actor as Pacino is, the material is
At times it seemed phoned
in. Which is funny since the whole play is mostly Pacino talking on the phone
through his Bluetooth earpiece to imaginary people on the line: his much
younger fiancée, his lawyer, and his business connections. But we never hear their side of the
Pacino’s character, Mickey
Ross, rants and raves and apologizes. He’s old. He’s rich. He’s self-absorbed. And
he just bought a $60 million plane for his fiancée to secure her affection. He
also has some rivalry going on with his former mentor’s son who’s running for
governor. This part of the script was
indecipherable. And most of the one-sided dialogue was irrelevant. Sad to say, even
Pacino’s talent wasn’t enough.
Spoiler alert: At the end he
does a nasty deed with his model plane. It all seems absurd. As does the life
of Mickey Ross and this play. Its limited engagement mercifully ends Jan. 31.
Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St.