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Sexual Perversity in Chicago and the Duck Variations: Two Plays Paperback – January 31, 1994

4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Mamet 's Glengarry Glen Ross won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1984. He is also the author of Writing in Restaurants and On Directing Film, both available from Penguin.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (January 31, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080215011X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802150110
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Mamet's numerous plays include Oleanna, Glengarry Glen Ross (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award), American Buffalo, Speed-the-Plow, Boston Marriage, November, Race and The Anarchist. He wrote the screenplays for such films as The Verdict, The Untouchables and Wag the Dog, and has twice been nominated for an Academy Award. He has written and directed ten films, including Homicide, The Spanish Prisoner, State and Main, House of Games, Spartan and Redbelt. In addition, he wrote the novels The Village, The Old Religion, Wilson and many books of nonfiction, including Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose and Practice of the Movie Business; Theatre; Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama and the New York Times bestseller The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. His HBO film Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, aired in 2013 and earned him two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing. He was co-creator and executive producer of the CBS television show The Unit and is a founding member of the Atlantic Theater Company.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Forget *Swingers*, forget *High Fidelity*, forget Tarantino's trash-talking hoods, David Mamet got there way before these belated young Turks. *Sexual Perversity in Chicago* is a brilliant, in-your-face series of vignettes sloshing through the muck of modern relationships. Two men and two women lock horns in a lewd scrimmage of blackly funny narcissistic power-plays, a despairing search for flitting, short-lived solace and pleasure, blasted by cruelty, impatience, tooth-and-claw feral soliloquy on why the opposite gender is one-part vampire, one-part Machiavel, can't live with them, can't sell them for parts (tee-hee).
Metropolitan swingers circling the drain of mean-streets cynicism and tough-talking bachelorhood, trawling the muddy waters of singles bars and yuppie night spots, searching for that ephemeral ounce of pleasure in a world of subterfuge and delay, mind-games and cruel deception, an odium of broken expectations and buried dreams.... Funny as the play is, it's distressing to have our noses rubbed in this point-blank opprobrium of our own basest impulses, the Spirit of Revenge which contaminates many of our frantic attempts to love and be loved.
Refreshingly, the women in Mamet's play seem much more interesting than the men, if only because their cynicism is more richly varied, more intellectually pungent. As shellshocked veterans of the gender war, it remains difficult to decide whether Mamet's scenarios are A: exaggerated worst-case aberrations, or B: (gulp) true-to-life tableaux on how perversely we are prone to behave toward one another, a vicious circle of paranoid self-hatred razing the purlieus of conventional "happiness" (or post-coital afterglow, once the bar is dropped).
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By A Customer on January 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
David Mamet proves time and time again that he has mastered the language of men and women alike. Sexual Perversity is an abrasive but honest look at the state of sex in the minds of adults during the post-collegiate and early career building years. Mamet, as in all of his plays, shows honest humanity in tangible, easily-believed characters. The language is obscene & perverse but horrificly true-to-life and natural. Working with nothing more thant stereotypes, he chisels out characters so real and so vivid as to leave the audience thirsting for more. David Mamet has proven himself time and time again that he is a not only the definitive analysis of pop culture and modern trends, but also a brilliant wordsmith as well.
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Format: Paperback
Here in one volume are two critically acclaimed plays by one of our national treasures, playwright David Mamet. Perversity (1974) won the Obie for the best off-Broadway play of its year. It's good, really good but Variations (1972) is, in my view, even better.

Perversity centers around the relationship of two pairs, one male (Danny and Bernard) and the other female (Deborah and Joan). Danny and Deborah become a couple. Bernard and Joan set out to tear it down. They succeed and by the end, Danny and Deborah are back with their mates, all possibility of love between them lost, lost, lost. The play is presented as a series of short scenes with blackouts in between. The dialogue is what would come to be seen as vintage Mamet -spare, colloquial, and oblique, especially when talking about things of the heart or soul. There's a lot of profanity, which fits, especially the characters of Bernard (misogynistic and opportunistic toward women) and Joan (equally negative about men and a user).

Variations is a little gem, arguably one of the best American plays of the last half of the twentieth century. It employs the same minimalistic style of conversing used in Perversity, but not pointed any place. In Perversity, all the random, sometimes scabrous talk leads to the demolition of Danny and Deborah's love affair. You can see the four characters' future lying ahead of them: self-absorbed, even solipsistic, turned off of deeper relationships and users all. The two old men in Variations just talk. They could be in a Beckett play, probably Waiting for Godot (1953), if Beckett had been a minimalist realist, writing in Chicago at the start of the `70s.
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Format: Paperback
I must confess the only reason that I read "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" was because of the movie it inspired "About Last Night..." I must have watched this movie a million times having a love and hate for it, these feelings are explained in full detail in my review here on Amazon.

My interest was always peaked about the catalyst of the 1986 film, so I have wanted to read the play for quite sometime now. My brother bought me this book for my birthday and now I was finally able to satisfy my curiosity. This book features two plays "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" and "The Duck Variations", both written by David Mamet.

The play is totally different from the film. (From my understanding David Mamet loathed "About Last Night"...) The dialogue is much rawer, in your face, honest and not quite as jovial. There is a still an element of comedy, but I would suggest it is more focused human relations, where the movie is more of a "romantic-comedy". There are only four characters in this play; Danny, Debbie, Bernie and Joan. The events take place over a nine week period in a Chicago summer.

The scenes are short and many ways leave much open to interpretation, as does the entire play. Not only do I feel that this is a wonderful play, I feel it really depicts the struggle and camaraderie between men and women. As for this play being written in the early 1970s, the dialogue and situations are still relevant in modern times.

"The Duck Variations" is a very different type of play from "Sexual Perversity in Chicago". "The Duck Variations" is about two elder men named George and Emil who are sitting in a park and discussing many different aspects of life.
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