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Winger’s Ann, the harder part, is more cagy, stiff and humorless. As the play progresses, it’s clear that Ann has an encyclopedic knowledge of her inmate’s life _ she throws out references to Cathy’s old writings, letters and even scrawls in the margins of her books.

She is playing the long game and this interrogation _ one long, continuous scene set in what Mamet calls “a bare office” _ has been mapped out long before. Winger beautifully reveals the reason for her overly magisterial tone.

Credit Mamet for making both his heroines _ the playwright is not known for putting women at the center of his plays _ sympathetic, despite his own personal political shift from left to right.

Ann and Cathy trade arguments about whether people can change and sympathies can alter depending on who is talking. But the playwright undermines that with a creepy fascination with lesbianism and a play that seems to hate pausing even for a second.

It fails to connect to the heart or the mind. But at least it’s mercifully short. No sooner have you arrived at the theater than you are back in the street, puffing in the cold air _ and maybe sending out an expletive, too.