note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Beverly Creasey
The best theater in Boston often isn't even in Boston. Sometimes you have to go to the tiny, out of the way spaces in church basements and warehouses to find a gem. In one of those little hole-in-the-wall theaters right now you can find a damn good production of David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross".
The Hovey Players in Waltham is presenting an unconventional, un-Mametesque version of the Pulitzer Prize winning drama --- i.e. no heavy pauses, no monotone Mamet-speak. This makes the play very short, but the good news is that it plays like gangbusters. Director Jerry Bizantz gambled and, as the tough talking salesguys might say, he scores bigtime. The fabulous nastiness of the dog-eat-dog real estate world hits even harder when you don't have to concentrate on those awkward rhythms Mamet is famous for.
Mamet's territory in GGR is the art of the deal --- the hard sell, the scam. These wiseguys in suits are unloading lousy condos on the easily deluded. Mamet knows whereof he writes, having worked, he freely admits, as a sleazy real estate salesman in Chicago
If you can stand the heat of the language in this play (and it's mighty blue), this kitchen really cooks. Suffice it to say, as one of the slimy salesmen does, GGR "is no courtesy class". Insults rage. Tempers flare. And seven actors get to perform the ensemble roles of a lifetime.
Ken LeTendre is a spectacularly pathetic Shelly ("The Machine") Levine, whose hot streak has gone stone cold. Jason Myatt is Levine's anal-retentive superior, and he won't cut Shelly a break. He delights in it. Myatt is masterfully cold hearted as this ruthless office manager. Rocco Sperazzo is hilarious as a lowlife who dreams up the idea of a heist. (He's only "talking" about it.) Jerry Kaplan does his best work yet as a beleaguered George, intimidated by everyone and pushed to his limit by Myatt. This is physically realized by Kaplan practically backing out of the office, pursued by Myatt: some very smart directorial choreography.
John Carozza is on fire as a flashy, manic, high-rolling top salesman, and Steven Mullahoo brings down the house by just listening to Carozza's rant, he's so good. Lenny Megliola is perfection as a quintessential tight-lipped cop with a hint of menace beneath the veneer. When Megliola's eyes narrow, you know he means business.
Director Bizantz may have trashed Mamet's timing, but he gets a deeper, more frenetic rhythm going and GGR becomes more intense ... so volatile, in fact, you hope no one lights a match. John MacKenzie's sets are amusing all by themselves, whether it's the overflowing ashtrays in front of the "No Smoking" sign in the run down real estate office, or the very red Chinese restaurant where the men hustle the patrons. This is one "Glengarry Glen Ross" with heat and momentum: it positively crackles.
And that's no hard sell.