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.
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.
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!
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