Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Glengarry Glen Ross"

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark

"Glengarry Glen Ross"

by David Mamet
Directed by Jerry Bizantz

Scenic Design by Michele Boll
Set Design by John MacKenzie
Lighting Design by John MacKenzie
Stage Manager Annamarie Soares

Shelly Levine...................Ken LeTendre
John Williamson..................Jason Myatt
Dave Moss....................Rocco Sperazzo
George Aaronow................Jerry Kaplan
Richard Roma...............John G. Carozza
James Lingk.................Steven Mullahoo
Baylen............................Lenny Megliola

There is nothing in particular I can add to Beverly Creasey's review of The Hovey Players' "Glengarry Glen Ross" except that the auditorium seats only 52 people, the subscription-list alone would fill it again and again, and it is a fine, well-crafted show no one should miss. Let me just fill in a few personal impressions.

Start with incidental music. Anyone with as moldy-fig an ear as I have will hear exquisitely chosen old jazz and great blues --- Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen --- setting the tone for the two acts. The Hovey audience usually knows each other and talks as the lights dim, but these introductory moments are worth quiet listening, and they do set up the emotional themes for the action.

There's no costume person listed, but everyone literally looks the part here, from body types and varying statures down to the clothes they have chosen. Ken LeTendre's Shelly Levine, for instance, has a full head of immaculately white hair so perfectly coiffed it rivals Ronald Reagan's; and the face under it can make that mop into a flag of defiant rear-guard action, or one of defeat. Shelly's suit-coat is always as immaculate as that hair, but his thin tie dangles from a collar wrenched apart in the heat of combat, and his trousers are creased and baggy, though his smile is not.

Shelly, Dave (Rocco Sperazzo) and George (Jerry Kaplan) are the old-guard here, with war-stories from front lines ten and twenty years back. Each one complains, each one has a different solution for the salesman's predicament, but all they ask for is a list of leads they can sell sleazy real estate plots to --- good leads, not deadbeats.

Their adversary is John Williamson (Jason Myatt) their office-manager, who can bend rules but expects his pound of flesh if he does. There are incredible subterranean conflicts playing out here. The salesmen are self-taught not college-trained. They're older. They each wear an ethnic stamp and the background of their class. They are fiercely independent, cutthroat competitors, but what unites them all against the living symbol of the company's indifference is their love of the game As Game. They stick together, but only in the face of a common adversary.

Steven Mullahoo is the quarry in the game: a cautious, curious, innocent Polock with a little money in savings. In the third scene, John G. Carozza as Richard Roma sees him eating alone, mesmerizes him as easily as a viper does its prey, and reveals to the audience what all that talk of selling in the first two scenes is really all about. When Roma gets to the pen and brochure point in the conversation, the pigeon has become a squab without even realizing it.

Roma is the star salesman for the company. Younger than the rest, he is the ultimate salesman. He seems to do it all instinctively, but he is also conscious that his colleagues have experience he can learn from. He plays as fair as possible, he's as willing to praise a success as he is to assassinate anyone who upsets The Game from lack of understanding. If these are tarnished knights of the round table, he is their Lancelot.

Lenny Megliola plays a dogged, suspicious detective investigating crime in act two. Emerging from his offstage sanctum to call the salesmen one by one for questioning, he is The Angel of Death waiting to pounce. He may not be able to find --- well, the mildest metaphor is "a couch in the living-room" but he smells something, he's determined, and at his own metier he is as dedicated to The Game as the men he questions.

One thing that runs as a deep undercurrent through this play is anger --- blindly unfocused unrelenting rage at everything that makes The Game so hard. It hovers like a dangerous electrical charge in a thundercloud, lashing out at now a colleague, now the bosses, now a relapsing prospect. It's that rage that comes with the territory that separates Mamet's salesmen from Miller's Willy Loman. Perhaps they, like he, have lives and families and self-delusions, but those are not Mamet's subject. The Game and its players, and their rage to get only a slightly unfair tilt of the playing-field in their favor, are what's centerstage here. And so, of course, the blue language of continual rage erupts from every mouth. This is after all the office, not some Hunkie pigeon's kitchen. And a man's gotta say what a man's gotta say, doesn't he?

The beauty of the Hovey Players' theater-space is that every tiniest detail of these interactions happens, literally, in the same room with the audience. No wonder they're playing to sell-out crowds.

You had better call in reservations well in advance. .


"Glengarry Glen Ross" (till 23 May)
9 Spring Street, WALTHAM

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide