Play: Glengarry Glen Ross
Group: HotCity Theatre
Venue: Kranzberg Arts Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters Building, 501 N. Grand
Dates: March 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28
Tickets: $15 to $25; 289-4063 or hotcitytheatre.org
Story: The lives of Shelley Levene, Ricky Roma, Dave Moss and George Aaronow are filled to the brim with pressure and stress. They’re all real estate salesmen chasing the big bucks and elusive dreams of happiness and success in corporate America from their seedy Chicago office, searching for gullible ‘marks’ to purchase seemingly exotic properties Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms in Florida.
Levine is an old-timer desperately holding on to his last vestiges of humanity. Aaronow is a beaten-down veteran who nonetheless methodically slugs along in his duty. Moss is an arrogant, defensive big-mouth who has plenty of excuses for why his sales are down, while Roma is a fast-talking, slickly dressed hustler always looking for the next patsy.
All of them are put to the test even further when office manager Williamson tells them that jobs are on the line with the latest sales push.
Highlights: David Mamet won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1984 with this blistering assault on sensibilities that still carries an emotional wallop 25 years later. Its latest incarnation is a sizzling, slickly assembled salute to Mamet’s intense writing style that features a truly wonderful ensemble effort by director Annamaria Pileggi’s septet of actors. Pileggi keeps the pace brisk and the delivery at the top of the emotion meter. Nowhere in the two quick acts is this better realized that the blocking of five of the men in a crucial scene when hapless sales lead Jim Lingk realizes that he has been played cruelly and indifferently in exchange for his money.
There are excellent star turns by Bobby Miller (who also was stunning in a memorable Theatre Project Company version some two decades ago) as the desperate Levene and Peter Mayer as the vulgar, vicious Moss. Mayer veritably explodes at any given time, and he plays delightfully with Mamet’s ingeniously clever dialogue to make his points, while Miller expertly etches the desperation in Levene’s pitiful attempts at survival.
Jerry Russo is outstanding as Roma, demonstrating his higher plane in this survival-of-the-fittest environment with his French cuffs and perfectly coiffed hair, yet unleashing snarling savagery at the slightest provocation. B. Weller is terrific as Lingk, a timid and invisible sort who is mesmerized by Roma’s braggadocio until his wife utters a clarion call to reality. Chopper Leifheit is engaging and amusing as the perseverant and naively charming Aaronow, while Christopher Lawyer is solid as the tightly coiled Williamson, reviled by all until they need his help for crucial sales leads. G.P. Hunsaker satisfactorily completes the cast as an impatient police detective called to investigate a robbery.
Sean Savoie starkly lights his spartan set, a grim pair of tables with chairs for the opening act in a Chinese restaurant, a functional desk for the second act in the office, along with a pair of doors at either end of the stage to Williamson’s office and the hallway, although more clutter and chaos would be appropriate in Act II. Bonnie Kruger dresses these modern-day warriors in their three-piece uniforms, and Alexa Shoemaker provides an appropriately macho soundtrack by the likes of Rat Packers Sinatra, Martin and Davis.
Glengarry Glen Ross remains a gritty, grueling and grotesque world where the sun never shines and the good have long ago left for a warmer climate.
Rating: A 5 on a scale of 1-to-5.