‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ at Round House Theatre by David Frisic

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Round House Theatre’s current production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross delivers a power-packed punch to the collective gut of the American working man’s psyche. As one watches this group of men trying to close on one shady deal after another, scramble for the “good” leads, and fight to win the top slot on the salesman’s board (and a prize Cadillac!), one can see playwright Mamet’s mastery of portraying the ruthlessness, back-stabbing and deviousness of this group of men trying to race to the top of the real estate game. Macho posturing, constant sports allusions, and psychological cruelty all congeal under as these pressure-driven characters deliver Mamet’s profane poetry.

Alexander Strain (Richard Roma) and Rick Foucheux (Shelly Levene). Photo by Danisha Crosby.
Alexander Strain (Richard Roma) and Rick Foucheux (Shelly Levene). Photo by Danisha Crosby.

Ringing in at an intermission-less 88 minutes, this Glengarry moves forcefully and swiftly under the taut direction of Director Mitchell Hébert. The cast of seven men under constant pressure to “close the deal” and ratchet up their standing in this slightly seedy real-estate office – work together splendidly as an ensemble. Director Hebert very realistically brings out the hard-scrabble and depressing work ethic of men under continual scrutiny. Adding “fuel to the fire” of the plot are the issues of a possible robbery, bad leads, personality conflicts, and the miscalculated comments made to clients.

Prolific Scenic Designer James Kronzer outdoes himself with a stunning set design that elicited thunderous applause and gasps of awe from the audience. Opening in a Chinese restaurant with three distinct red booths that encompass three distinct scenes that set up the context for the second act – the restaurant swivels around in seconds to reveal a seedy run-down real estate office.

Matthew M. Nielson’s Sound Design is appropriately bombastic and riveting. Ivania Stack’s Costume Design is appropriately business-like with a touch of dishevelment. Daniel Maclean Wagner’s Lighting Design is “spot-on” (no pun intended!).

All the actors are superb and astutely develop their own distinct personalities. Jeff Allin (Dave Moss), Conrad Feininger (George Aaronow), and Stephen Patrick Martin (Baylen) are all uniformly excellent in their ensemble work. A particularly interesting interpretation is delivered by KenYatta Rogers as the officious and bureaucratic office head, John Williamson; his slow burn is indeed something to see. Jesse Terrrill as James Lingk, the client who is afraid for the outcome of his investment, perfectly conveys the character’s fear and vulnerability.

Rick Foucheux (Shelly Levine) and Kenyatta Rogers (Jason Williamson). Photo by Danisha Crosby.
Rick Foucheux (Shelly Levine) and KenYatta Rogers (John Williamson). Photo by Danisha Crosby.

The showier parts have always been those of the characters of Shelly Levene and Richard Roma. Rick Foucheux (Shelly Levene) captures all the desperation and neediness of the character and is especially effective in his scenes sparring with Alexander Strain (Richard Roma). Strain delivers all the high-octane energy one expects from this loud, cutthroat character. Strain prowls around the set like an animal in heat and you cannot take your eyes off his very immediate presence.

Like a modern day variant of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Round House Theatre’s Glengarry Glen Ross powerfully explores the darker side of the American Dream. Do not miss this superior piece of provocative theatre!

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Glengarry Glen Ross plays through March 3, 2013 at Round House Theatre – 4545 East-West Highway in Bethesda, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (240) 644-1100, or purchase them online.

LINKS:
Part 1: ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ at Round House Theatre: Meet Director Mitchell Hébert by Joel Markowitz.

Part 2: ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ at Round House Theatre: Meet Alexander Strain by Joel Markowitz

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David Friscic
David has always had a passionate interest in the arts from acting in professional dinner theatre and community theatre to reviewing film and local theatre in college to making numerous treks to New York City to indulge his interest in live theatre. An enthusiastic interest in writing has shown itself in a BA in English/Education and an MA in English Literature. Taken together, these two interests have culminated in the logical conclusion of writing for an arts blog. David moved up and down the East Coast due to his father's job at General Electric and this has helped him to perceive the world in a very open way. After his schooling, David taught in Catholic school systems for awhile and, then, spent three years in the seminary with two years at Catholic University studying Theology and one year in a practicuum working at a church in New York State. David currently works at the National Science Foundation as a Technical Information Specialist for the Office of Polar Programs and has had the great opportunity to go to Antarctica twice and Greenland once in support of the research community. He enjoys living in Bethesda and has taken courses at the Writer's Center. David enjoys swimming, traveling, reading, and working on committees at his condo. His major interest, however, is the arts and all it encompasses---from symphony, to film, to museum treks to live theatre. He counts having lunch with Lillian Gish and meeting Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Liza Minnelli and Sandy Dennis as some of the more exciting encounters of his life.