David Mamet’s Romance is a farce. And, as farce is the most heartless of theatrical forms, any romance is unlikely to be of the boy-meets-girl kind. In fact, there are no girls to meet. The cast assembled by the Atlantic Theatre Company is all-male—judges, lawyers, defendants, this being a courtroom farce. The star performance is Larry Bryggman’s as the presiding justice, a demented comic turn nothing in this solid working actor’s curriculum vitae has prepared us for. Farce is physical, at least in the hands of Feydeau or the West End trouser-droppers—slamming doors, protagonists interrupted in flagrante—and Mamet is the least physical of playwrights. So the joy of Bryggman’s performance is that, without much actual movement, it’s full of comic energy, a rollicking cavalcade of slumps and glares and vacant stares. His sneeze prompts the following responses:

 

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