Through Sun 10/6
Watching the characters con, lie and trick each other in the Beck Center’s Glengarry Glen Ross reminded me of the truth embedded in Shakespeare’s catchy phrase about lust: “an expanse of spirit in a waste of shame.” David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning (1984) work portrays a toxic blend of lust (for money), vanity and a “mine is bigger than yours” business culture. It offers a perfect illustration of the myriad ways humans can betray each other. Bummer.
William Roudebush directed Mamet’s story about four Chicago salesmen whose boss charts their sales and tells them only the top two will keep their jobs.
First the good things: It’s a technically fine production. There’s a Chinese restaurant (complete with chopsticks and fortune cookies) and a Chicago office (complete with filing cabinets — remember those?). Set design is by Cheri DeVol, light design by Trad A. Burns, costumes by Inda Blatch-Geib and sound design by Angie Hayes.
Although the excellent ensemble cast brought talent in abundance to the story, it’s a downer.
After the salesmen Shelly Levene (Austin Pendleton), John Williamson (Andrew Gorell), Dave Moss (Brian Pedaci) and George Aaronow (Chris D’Amico) hatch several schemes, we see the top salesman Richard Roma (Christopher M. Bohan) verbally abuse and threaten them if they don’t sell more real estate by the next day. Other characters include James Lingk (Stuart Hoffman), a “mark” if there ever was one, and police officer Baylen (John Busser). There’s a bit of mystery at the end about who did what to whom, but by then who cares?
There is a warning from the Beck Center about language — lots of swear words and vulgar expressions — and how that means this show is not for young ones. This is true. I’d put a warning out that it might not be for old ones either. Mamet’s world is bleak, pointless, and money driven. No one escapes. And, alas, because the directing and the design is good, we are trapped in the minds and world of these pitiful, struggling men. I think I’d rather be a housewife.
Glengarry Glen Ross runs Fridays and Saturdays @ 8pm and Sundays @ 3pm, through Sun 10/6.