Even if you're a frequent theater-goer and a David Mamet fan, you might not know his play "The Water Engine."
"No one ever does it," said Greg Leaming. "It's David Mamet at the beginning of his career."
Leaming is the director of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training and he's directing of the conservatory's upcoming production of "The Water Engine." It opens Wednesday at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts in Sarasota.
The play has an unusual history. Mamet wrote it as a radio play for NPR. In 1977, it was adapted for the stage and opened at the Public Theater in New York.
The stage version actually starts as a radio play, with actors taking multiple roles and a sound-effects artist visible to the audience. Eventually the radio-play format fades away and the story is told in a more traditional theatrical style.
The plot takes place in 1934, and a man named Charles Lang has invented an engine that runs on water. He plans to get rich from his invention, but he runs into sinister, powerful forces that interfere with his plan.
Mamet fans will recognize the playwright's distinctive style, but with some differences, Leaming said.
"He uses dialogue in a very interesting way," he said. "But here he leaves the four-letter words at home."
Details: Nov. 5-23, Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $28-$29. Information: 941-351-8000, www.asolorep.org.
-- Marty Clear