By David Mamet. Directed by Stephen Malloy. A Main Street Theatre Approved Equity Co-op production. At Little Mountain Studios on Wednesday, November 19. Continues until November 29
What a treat. Glengarry Glen Ross is a contemporary classic, and this production realizes the script’s power with precision and wit.
David Mamet’s 1982 play focuses on a group of real-estate salesmen trying to sell crappy land to unsuspecting customers. The top seller will win a fancy car, while those who don’t perform well will lose their jobs. It’s every man for himself, and it brings out the characters’ basest impulses.
Mamet is famous for his dialogue, with its incomplete thoughts (even incomplete syllables) and frequent profanity. Director Stephen Malloy and his cast deftly capture Mamet’s style in an assured and fast-paced production. Malloy even has a drummer, Rex Fenton, pounding out beats during the scene changes, reminding us that the play is all about rhythm.
The standout in this uniformly strong cast is Bill Dow as Levene, a former hotshot whose star is fading. In an early scene, Levene begs office manager Williamson (Josh Drebit) for some decent leads. Dow nails Levene’s mixture of bravado and desperation, and his halting attempts to gain the conversational upper hand are subtly hilarious.
The use and abuse of language is a central theme here. When one reasonably successful salesman, Moss (Daryl King), suggests to the despondent Aaronow (played with a spot-on ennui by Ryan Beil) that they break into the office to steal the leads, Aaronow asks, “Are we actually talking about this?” “No,” Moss replies, “we’re just speaking about it.” And having a “big mouth” is something more than one man brags about, but it ultimately proves a curse.
The seductive but destructive power of empty “talk” is embodied in Roma, the company’s top salesman. Alex Ferguson makes Roma’s rambling monologue about moral relativity-the prelude to a big sale-both funny and chilling. And Michael P. Northey’s Blake reveals how words can carry pure aggression.
The cramped performance space at Little Mountain Studios makes up for its poor sightlines with an intimacy that’s well suited to this play-audience members really do feel like flies on the wall. I wouldn’t want to sit down and make a deal with any of these guys, but I was thrilled to watch them for a couple of hours.