The Water Engine
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The Water Engine is a play by David Mamet that highlights the sometimes violent suppression of a disruptive alternative energy technology.
The Water Engine is set in 1934. Its central character, Charles Lang, is a young amateur inventor, who designs an engine that runs on water. He plans to patent it, make a fortune, and live happily ever after with his sister Rita Lang, but his dream begins to unravel when he finds himself up against two hoodlum-like attorneys, Morton Gross and Lawrence Oberman.
Originally written as a radio play for the NPR drama showcase Earplay, The Water Engine was first staged at The Public Theater by Steven Schachter. It opened on December 20, 1977 and ran for 63 performances. The cast included Dwight Schultz as Charles Lang, David Sabin as Morton Gross, and Bill Moor as Lawrence Oberman. On February 28, 1978, it transferred to the Plymouth Theatre on Broadway as a double-bill with a short Mamet play entitled Mr. Happiness, and ran for 24 performances. In this production Patti LuPone was featured as Rita. The play was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play.
The play was adapted by Mamet, Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, and Martin Goldstein for a 1992 made-for-cable television movie directed by Steven Schachter and starring William H. Macy as Charles Lang, John Mahoney as Mason (instead of Morton) Gross, Joe Mantegna as Lawrence Oberman, and Patti LuPone as Rita. Charles Durning, Treat Williams, Andrea Marcovicci, Peter Michael Goetz, Rebecca Pidgeon, Felicity Huffman, Ricky Jay, and Joanna Miles also were in the cast. It was produced by Amblin Television and broadcast by TNT.
- Mamet 1977