David Mamet’s Pulitzer-prize-winning play makes everyone take notice and everyone should take note of The Burlington County Footlighters’ production of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. The acting was sterling, the lights and sound superb, and the set divine. Mamet uses some crude language to batter his characters, so audiences beware. However, if you can stand it, you are in for a treat.
The Chinese restaurant of Act I, with its decadent red wallpaper and framed fans, is perfect (and it has some significance in its own right, which will become clear later). Chinese music maintains the atmosphere between scenes in the first Act. The director, playing the Chinese server, is a nice touch. In Act II plays in a wonderful, cluttered, and apparently ransacked office. The office, robbed of sales leads, contracts and even phones, disrupts all that define the salesmen’s barriers to success. Perhaps, this action signifies an attempt by someone to start over.
The lights and music were spot on. Director Valerie J. Brothers’ directing blends naturally in the action.
Mamet uses language as action, too, telling us clearly, what he means. His character dialogues top and crisscross repetitiously and rapidly, as if slashing and biting. There is a fight for survival and dominance in action. His character monologues lash out in desperation or posture triumphantly.
The playwright’s repetitive language seems odd at first, but it works. We get it. Although the wordplay is exaggerated, for some reason that does not bother us. Perhaps, it is because we understand these men; some of us have felt their pain and triumphs, or, we have felt like one of the victims. Nonetheless, we know the job is hard and that it is tough to survive in that harsh, seemingly uncivilized environment. You have heard “it’s a jungle out there”. The wild animal bays at the moon, demanding its freedom from the drudgery of a relentless pursuit, or announcing its triumphant arrival to the pack.
Mamet’s real estate salesmen are like packs of wild dogs, wolves…or hyenas–all over each other and anyone who gets in their way. The incessant cursing is more akin to barking and howling; cries for help, mewling, cowering, begging and posturing to establish dominance. In human terms, the members of this pack will do anything—connive, cajole, lie, bribe and even steal–to achieve the prize that they are seeking and only one can have.
They redefine the world to justify their existence. While there is a pecking order, occasionally a member or two fight amongst themselves and rails about his or her environment. Still they are predators, and we are the prey.
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS is a scathing attack at the business world. The sales office of the play serves as a microcosm of capitalist culture: as the top man gets a Cadillac and the bottom man gets fired, every man must not only work for his own success but also hope for—or actively engineer—his coworkers’ failure. As for the red wallpaper in the Chinese restaurant: the communist atmosphere is in contrast to the capitalistic one
The BCF actors aptly portray Mamet’s well-defined characters.
Breen Rourke is impressive as the washed-up Shelley Levine. While he probably has the most lines in the play, it is because his character is not a smooth talker or timid as two of the other characters. Robert Hawkey plays Richard Roma, the man with the Cadillac who is a smooth talker. Both are truly excellent in these roles. Kevin Esmond makes John Williamson, the company man, quite believable. Another smooth talker and angry salesman, Dave Moss is admirably played by Daniel Brothers. Alex Krier gives George Aaronow his best, and Scott Ross gave a sympathetic edge to James Lingk, the victim. David Pallas plays the tough Detective Baylen, who stands up well against the others trying to berate him into submission.
BCF’s production takes full advantage of Mamet’s use of language to present the amazing business jungle that is GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.
If you were ever sold something you did not want to buy…you can identify.
BCF’s production of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS is a “must see!”
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS
by David Mamet
Directed by Valerie J. Brothers
November 7-16, 2014
Burlington County Footlighters
808 Pomona Rd
Cinnaminson, NJ 08077