Boston Marriage, about the relationship between two Victorian women, marks a significant departure for Mamet, whose reputation is based largely on gritty, male-biased work. The term "Boston marriage" is 19th-century slang for the implied relationship between women who lived together without men. The play centres on two such women, Claire and Anna, whose prickly manners don't help as their friendship disintegrates.
The play premiered in 1999 at Boston's American Repertory Theatre in a production directed by Mamet and starring his wife Rebecca Pidgeon in the all-female cast. Mamet's other work includes Glen Garry Glen Ross, American Buffalo (which played at the Donmar last year), The Old Neighbourhood (which had its British premiere at the Royal Court in 1998) and Speed the Plow (which was revived at the New Ambassadors and Duke of York's theatres last year).
Wanamaker won an Olivier for Best Actress in 1998 for her performance at the Donmar in the title role of Electra, which also transferred to Broadway. Her other recent stage credits include Mamet's The Old Neighbourhood, The Glass Menagerie (Donmar and West End), Dead Funny (Hampstead and West End) and, most recently, Battle Royal (National). She's joined in the cast by Anna Chancellor and Lyndsey Marshal.
The acclaimed revival of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, currently at the Donmar, completes its run on 3 March 2001.
- by Terri Paddock