Synthetic Unlimited brings dinner theater to life at Stonehouse |

Synthetic Unlimited brings dinner theater to life at Stonehouse

Submitted to Prospector

Synthetic Unlimited opens its ambitious seven-show season Thursday (April 11) with "Speed the Plow," David Mamet's smart, fast-paced play about sexual politics, selling out and the end of the world in contemporary Hollywood.

Synthetic Unlimited is a local theater company, known for producing main stage plays like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra." They are embarking on a new season of classic plays from April through October, produced at the Stonehouse in Nevada City with low ticket prices, dinner, drinks, and free opening acts.

"Speed the Plow" by David Mamet, one of America's premiere contemporary playwrights, is about two Hollywood producers trying to make a new movie deal and the seductive temp secretary that attempts to influence their decision. Alexis Gross plays Karen the secretary, originally portrayed on Broadway by Madonna. Ian Haines captivates as the fast-talking salesman Charlie Fox, and Foothill Theater's legendary actor Richard Winters returns to the stage after a two year hiatus in the lead role of Bobby Gould. Grace Fae, a local actress and producer, makes her directorial debut.

Mamet's body of work suits Synthetic Unlimited's entertainment philosophy in that it is smart, fast-paced, and challenging to both the actors and the audience, according to the company.

"Speed the Plow" also addresses the Hollywood movie-making process, which is important to Synthetic Unlimited as a young company seeking to produce and promote live theater. Most modern films contain a significant amount of sex, violence, action, and adult language, and move at a very fast pace. Synthetic Unlimited hopes that by appreciating and catering to the desires of a modern movie-going crowd, as well as keeping ticket prices affordable, they can attract new patrons of live theater. The company has renovated the small downstairs stage at The Stonehouse, and transformed the space with theatrical lighting and sets. Owner Nikko Wu believes this is the first full-length play ever produced at The Stonehouse, which was built in 1857, and remains a beautiful reminder of Nevada City's Gold Rush history.

A free hour of music kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with Jazz in Tandem, standards of the improvisational duet featuring Jacob Aginsky on piano and Dylan Sherwood McConnell on stand-up bass. At 7:15 p.m., the company members of Synthetic Unlimited present a free, hilarious short David Mamet parody play by David Ives called Speed the Play. "Speed the Plow" begins at 7:30 p.m., and runs for two hours with a short intermission. Tickets for the play are $15, or $10 for students, seniors, and members. Visit or call 1-888-95-SHOWS to buy tickets, and sign up on the homepage to receive the Synthetic Unlimited newsletter, with information about the upcoming season. The next show is a rare Tennessee Williams masterpiece called "Kingdom of Earth," which runs at The Stonehouse from May 16 – 31.

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