By Scott Brown
March 28, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Act 1 of David Mamet’s new play — a courtroom farce that seems priggishly suspicious of its own anarchy — is cryptic and infuriating. And it works. In a series of nicely staged dustups (the best pitting a Jew and an Episcopalian in ecstatically racist repartee), the playwright administers erratic acupuncture to our judicial culture of weak-kneed avoidance. Act 2, sadly, plays like a bad first draft of Act 1: It’s sheer contempt masquerading as farce, and Mamet drastically overestimates the shock (and humor) value of his situations. The show is designed to provoke, but a past-his-bedtime fustiness prevails.

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