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"My friend Todd Haimes from the Roundabout Theatre saw it last night and said, ‘Only you could find a play with a corset that’s written by David Mamet,’" booms Burton, who plays Anna, the elder character. Although the prolific Mamet is best known for his gritty male characters ("Glengarry Glen Ross," "The Untouchables"), his talent for witty dialogue is at its peak in this play, first staged in 1999. It is stocked with decidedly un-Victorian one-liners such as, "One must keep a civil tongue in one’s mouth. It need not be one’s own."
"What can I say?" asks Burton dryly. "It’s a big fat comedy. Sometimes they’re more challenging than dramatic plays because it’s all about timing."
And timing, when you’re dealing with Mamet’s language, can be difficult to master. According to Burton — whose sharp-tongued character plots to win back the affection of young Claire (Plimpton), whose eye has strayed — Mamet’s material makes for an extremely "tricky" show.
"It’s completely complex, a sort of mental gymnastics for both the audience and for us," she says, citing the density of his language. She likens the play to a "Caucasian, female highfalutin version of ‘Top Dog/Under Dog.’
"It really is about the power play, who’s on top, who feels they’re on top, who’s actually on top, and how you negotiate with someone you love. That’s Mamet at his core. It’s all about what can I get from you and over on you."