A Life in the Theatre shows the relationship between two stage actors – Robert, the older, and John, the younger – who are playing side by side in a season of plays. We see them both off stage and on as their relationship evolves from one of professional solidarity to one marked by bitterness and division, with John's promise as a young actor beginning to be realised just as Robert's talent starts to wane.
‘As so often in Mamet, a sense of desolation lies behind the laughter. In the spare, beautifully poised dialogue of the off-stage scenes he captures all the tension and rivalry between the old stager and the young pretender, scrupulously charting the balance of power as it shifts from age to youth . . . Mamet brings us to the heart of transcience and loss.’ Sunday Telegraph
A Life in the Theatre was first produced by the Theater de Lys, New York City, and opened on 20 October 1977, in a production directed by Gerald Gutierrez.