When Bobby returns to the old neighborhood, the people and places of his past cast shadows over the present.
In a trio of interleaved scenes, The Old Neighborhood provides a rare personal insight into Mamet’s world.
After its London opening, the Evening Standard reviewed the play, giving Mamet high praise in the process: ‘Mamet, ranked with Miller, Albee and Shepard as America’s finest living playwrights, distills the raw, rank flavour of people wading down streams of consciousness . . . A play of riveting disquiet.’ Mamet himself writes at length in his introduction, saying ‘The play is, of course, just three one-act plays with the same protagonist - three visions of ‘the trip home’. Both the subject and the form are modern, grown out, let me pontificate, of the late Industrial Revolution and the decampment from the Land . . . Stanislavski wrote that tragedy stands in the same relation to melodrama that drama does to comedy. I find the insight useful, as this drama . . . can, by squinting, be seen as comedies . . . They rely upon manufacturing incidents to reveal character, which incidents might as well be gags; and, at the play’s end, the protagonist is surprised to find him or herself right back where they started.
The Old Neighborhood was first performed in the United States at the Hasty Pudding Theatre, Massachusetts on 11 April 1997. Its first performance in the United Kingdom followed at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, London, on 17 June 1998, in a production directed by Patrick Marber.