Glengarry Glen Ross, a commentary of our times

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Watching four real estate salesmen stab each other in the back or deliberately break the law is absorbing. But toss in a competition to see who’s the biggest badass and things can get downright exciting or disgusting, depending on your point of view.

Playwright David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize winning Glengarry Glen Ross, now on at Walterdale Theatre until Saturday, April 16, is a skilfully conceived breakdown of the male psyche.

In a super competitive office full of tension and conflict, four guys will do anything to survive in the cutthroat world of real estate. These guys don’t just drive around picking up pretty real estate listings.

Nope. Their jobs are on the line. There are only two spots on the leader board and if the sales don’t come in they’re demoted to the bottom. And if they don’t make money, the losers are kicked out the door. By hey, that’s business.

Mamet taps into the desperation, the manipulation, the deceit, the double-cross and the full on lengths men will go to in order to survive when management pits employees against each other.

In this dark comedy, the four salesmen are what they sell. They are what they steal. They are hustlers, a symbol of America. But while management profits, somehow these schmucks have drawn the short stick of the American dream.

Mamet perfectly captures the crude, boastful speech and tough-guy attitude of men trapped in bullpen that is slowly destroying them.

And although the men’s non-stop volley of insults is abrasive, volatile and misogynistic, it appears perfectly natural for their backroom discussions.

Amidst this verbal torrent of foul-mouthed invective, director Curtis Knecht directs a deft and intelligent slice of life.

And somehow each of the actors has taken their pugnacious character, these verbal pugilists and made them slightly sympathetic.

Dale Wilson’s Shelley Levene is a faded star of the office, a pathetic old man living on his past glory days. He’s wrung out, and unwilling to accept that the traditional way of doing business has changed and he has not adapted.

John Evan’s Richard Roma is the younger smooth-talking sales rep on a hot streak. The strutting cock-of-the-walk is on the top of the board, in part due to selling out his co-workers. In the end all he sells is lies to clients, co-workers and himself.

Cory Christensen’s Dave Moss is a secondary character, but his role is pivotal in orchestrating the office’s demise. He is an offensive bonehead that dominates weaker minds through intimidation and in the end destroys his own career. He is a train wreck waiting to happen and Christensen’s portrayal is seamless.

Set designer Zoe Rod deserves a mention for a set that doubles as a Chinese restaurant and a fractured real estate office. By using only about two-thirds of the stage, she pushes the action right up to the audience. It feels in-your-face, visceral and suffocating just like the four vicious animals clawing at each other for survival.

With a fast-flowing river of curse words, Glengarry Glen Ross may not be for everyone. However, it is a play reminiscent of our times. And in view of the widespread corruption allegations recently leaked recently in the Panama Papers, it’s definitely a play worth seeing.

Review

Glengarry Glen Ross
Runs until Saturday, April 16
Walterdale Theatre
10322 – 83 Ave.
Tickets: Call 780-420-1757 or at tixonthesquare.ca

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About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.