I had high expectation of David Mamet’s new play Bitter Wheat, starred by John Malkovich, one of my favourite actors. It is inspired by the movie mogul Weinstein’s fall from grace for his sexual misconducts.
It’s fair enough to tell the story from the male perspective but this play verges on apologist.
The greater problem is the characterization of the protagonist Barney Fein. He is just an evil, narcissistic, foul-mouthed and fat sex-addict who lures woman to his cave whenever he gets an opportunity. He keeps forgetting his mother’s death; he calls his wife a ‘cunt’ and he employs a writer to write a play without paying him and he assaults a Eurasian star Yuang Kim Li, which leads to his downfall. Vicious through and through. We learn no hint how he becomes his way. Well, power corrupts. But without complexity, the character is simply not believable.
Malkovich is padded on the middle to make him look fatter. But as a character, he is far too thin.
There are some witty parts that won laughter from the audience. But Bitter Wheat left a bit of bitter taste in my mouth. Luckily I washed it away with a fabulous Malay dinner in Soho after the show.