SARASOTA -- David Mamet's Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the soul-draining nature of high-pressure commission sales in a churn' em and burn 'em Chicago real estate office is every bit as relevant today as it was in 1982. Under the expert direction of Carl Forsman, an all-star Asolo Rep cast delivers an inspired performance of this literary tour de force in an ever so timely presentation of a modern American classic.
In an ambitious season dubbed, The American Character, the Asolo Repertory Theatre has embarked on a poignant examination of the sometimes contradicting motivations and resulting dissatisfactions of the human spirit. With back to back productions of Pulitzer Prize-winning plays that approach the subject from starkly disparate avenues, the result is a theme very much accordant with contemporary American society.
Doug Jones as Shelly Levine in Glengarry Glen Ross
Photo by Cliff Roles
Like Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Glengarry Glen Ross tackles the timeless topic of the difficulty in finding self-worth while swimming through shark-infested waters, and how a person's occupation can literally grind them down to a stump when their labors lack self-actualization, fulfillment and even forgiveness.
Mamet, one of the most celebrated writers of his generation, has excelled at virtually every medium from screen to stage and even the novel. His ability to evoke passionate, dramatic oration from gritty and indeed obscene populist dialect, in a way that is at once deliberately overwrought yet believable, has become the hallmark of his work.
An intense play that rhythmically builds to an explosive crescendo, Glengarry Glen Ross demands a well-cast ensemble with not only the intensity, but endurance to bring down the final curtain. As usual, Asolo Rep delivers. Douglas Jones is nothing short of electric as Shelly “The Machine” Levine, an aging lion who's been chewed up and is on the verge of being spit out by his ever-demanding firm, Mitch & Murray. You can smell the bitter desperation dripping from Jones' Levine, as he fights the fade into oblivion by clinging to hopeless delusions of returning to the “top of the board.”
David Breitbarth wows as George Aaronov, the shell-shocked bottom runger, feebly trying to hang on through quaint and misguided notions, such as doing what's best for the customer. Jay Patterson amps up the performance as Dave Moss, the ruthlessly jaded mid-boarder who has shed any pretense of humanity in hopes of adapting to his territory. Paterson's precise timing and visceral performance is like a heavy bass line anchoring the verbose dialog.
Eric Hissom plays Ricky Roma, the office hot shot who's riding a hot streak, and his somewhat grittier and less polished interpretation plays well off of Patterson and Jones. Third-year Asolo Conservatory student Jesse Dornan is quite capable as office manager John Williamson, while classmates Francisco Rodriquez and Jacob Cooper more than hold their own in supporting roles.
The end result is a masterful interpretation of a challenging work of art, offering local theater fans a rare opportunity to see a dramatic Broadway classic in a local venue, without a hint of sacrifice in terms of production value. Glengarry Glen Ross plays through February 28. Click here for show times and ticket information.
|Eric Hissom and Francisco Rodriguez in Asolo Rep's Glengarry Glen Ross. Photo by Cliff Roles
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