Sharks circle in a small pond

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David Mamet’s blistering comedy Glengarry Glen Ross about small-time cutthroat real estate salesmen is not an easy pill to swallow.

Director Curtis Knecht tried for several years to convince Walterdale Theatre decision makers to add the winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize to its season.

For it’s 57th season, the play received a green light and will open tonight for a 10-day run until April 16.

“It’s so timely. It was written in the 80’s but it feels so current – the desperation to make a dollar,” said artistic director Anne Marie Szucs, a St. Albert resident.

Glengarry Glen Ross recreates the atmosphere of gritty real estate office where salesmen try to grind out a living and grab a slice of the American dream.

To make their quota and reach the top of pile, they push land on distrustful buyers using any immoral, unethical and illegal means at their disposal.

Management has just initiated a dog-eat-dog competition. The highest performer at the end of the month wins a Cadillac. The second highest receives a set of steak knives and the others get sacked.

These are tough characters leading a tough life, workers that feel they are not in control of their fate.

“It’s a strong comment about management – how to sell more and get rid of workers. You see how competition decimates a work environment and brings out the worst in people,” says Cory Christensen, who plays Dave Moss, one of the guys at the bottom of the heap.

An efficiency expert for Sturgeon County’s Barricades and Signs, Christensen has performed in seven Walterdale productions including Nine, Death Trap and The Fantasticks.

His character Dave is a handful, and unfortunately his co-workers have the same temperament.

“Dave gives me a headache. He’s not a happy man. He’s the antithesis of everyone I’ve played. He’s misogynistic, racist, a bigot, conniving, disrespectful and foul-mouthed.”

Mamet wrote the play after President Ronald Regan’s first term during the 1980s recession where the term “jingle keys” was coined. It referred to house keys placed in an envelope and mailed to bank from borrowers with defaulted loans.

“Here we are 30 years later and not a lot has changed. Just look at Trump. I see a guy who misinforms people for his own success. He is all the things I dislike about my character. To see him in control of nuclear weapons is scary.”

To develop this Mad Men style scenario, Mamet uses a sparse, clipped dialogue dubbed “Mametspeak.”

“It’s in your face, uncomfortable and beautiful. He cuts right to the core of a situation. It’s not flowery. It’s realistic dialogue. It may not be my truth, but there is a resonance of truth,” Szucs noted.

A fan of Mamet, Szucs is eager to open the production.

“You will see some of our finest male community theatre actors. The way they riff off each other is exciting. There’s a special brotherhood between them.

Preview

Glengarry Glen Ross
April 6 to 16
Walterdale Theatre
10322 – 83 Ave.
Tickets: $12 to $18 Call 780-420-1757 or 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.