David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross gives a look into the cut throat world of real estate in this latest production to go up at the Gladstone Theatre, produced by Avalon Studios.
Should you see it?
In the cut throat viper’s nest of real estate, anything is game, everything is mandatory, in order to close the deal. It’s a world where men are judged on their output of testosterone and how well they strut their tail feathers, and the all-male cast in this production by the Avalon Studio sure can strut.
I did not love-love this script like many others do. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it quite a lot, just didn’t love it. It felt like a juggler who throws a lot of pins in the air, but only catches one or two. There was a lot set up that felt, at least to me, unresolved or rushed. It was a gripping glimpse into the world of these ever-moving ever-closing sharks but I guess I was hoping for a more complete picture.
One thing to point out on that note is that I had never seen the movie. I only saw afterwords the famous Alec Baldwin scene that which very capably sets the tone and stakes for these characters. I’m not sure why that isn’t in the play, but I do believe that knowing it, having it mind, dramatically increases the drama for where the play begins.
And where does it begin? With a down-on-his luck sales agent trying to work any deal that will get him the good leads – those most likely to net big sales. He’s desperate for a chance to be a winner again, but to have a chance at winning, you need to have proven you can win. Bully for him. The next two scenes of the first act further set up individual aspects of the world of Glengarry Glen Ross: that other big players want those leads and other opportunities await our characters if they’re willing to take big risks, and demonstrating the art of the deal. This first act also expertly sets up each of the characters, played in this production by some of Ottawa’s strongest actors.
Tom Charlebois is the has-been who’s on his last leg and is increasingly desperate for a break and chance to prove he’s still got it. Chris Ralph is the nice guy, relatively to the environment, who almost seeems like he doesn’t quite fit in. He’s yin to John Muggleton’s yang as hardcore take-no-shit agent, ready to cut your throat to get ahead. Then there’s Steve Martin, the leader in sales and smooth operating scumbag who’s silver tongue is probably insured. The office is managed, and leads controlled, by the young upstart played by Leslie Cserepy, who relishes the power that allows him to lord over these other men, even if he’s still a bit wet behind the ears.
It’s a big cast (also including David Whitely is a police investigator not clear on what he’s gotten himself into. Dale MacEachearn as a client not at all ready to deal with smooth talking Steve Martin) and a cast you’d be hard pressed to find a better group suited for in Ottawa.
All told it makes for a biting, gritty, in your face production from lights up to curtain call.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to hear what you thought. Which of the cast was the douche-baggiest? Did you see the ending coming? Join the discussion in the comments below.
Glengarry Glen Ross runs at the Gladstone Theatre through July 5th. More information: http://thegladstone.ca/glengarry.html