In Prairie du Chien a railway carriage speeding through the Wisconsin night is the setting for a violent story of obsessive jealousy, murder and suicide, told within shooting distance of a card-hustler and his victim.
Reviewing the play alongside another mysterious Mamet play The Shawl, the New Statesman wrote ‘The concerns of Prairie du Chien and The Shawl are familiar ones. Do values exist? Is the world a jungle only? And how, finally, can we know the answer to that or anything else? Big general questions but dramatised with a succinctness, a concreteness, an energy, a fizz and a snap of which few if any playwrights are capable’.
Written so that it can be performed either onstage or on the radio, Prairie du Chien premiered on ‘Earplay’, a National Public Radio show in April 1979. It was first performed in Britain at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs on 9 June 1986, in a production directed by Max Stafford-Clark.