Volume 92, Issue 94
Thursday, March 25, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Glengarry Glen Ross weaves a great web
© Randy Quan/Gazette
By Tara Dermastja
In the words of fictional salesman Richard Roma, "when you die, you regret the things you don't do." And what he probably was referring to was not going to see the latest collaboration of the department of English and drama something Western students might soon regret.
Currently running until March 27, Deane Billington-Whiteley's production of Glengarry Glen Ross is an example of strong performances mixed with a deceiving script as the David Mamet play gives its audience a glimpse into the high risk world of stocks, bonds, real estate and what it takes to close a deal.
"I'm selling them something they don't even want," says the character Shelly Levene, while showing no apparent intentions in changing his ways. And he's not alone. The world of Glengarry Glen Ross is a tough one where mediocre players are laid out for lunch while the sharks of the trade call the shots. Friendships are scarce and last only as long as the success of the deals which they are based upon.
In addition, rare opportunities force the speculators to face their most hated opponents penny-pinching customers. The play is synonymous with passing the buck, as threats are continual and blame is always passed on.
Contrary to some of the characters' own beliefs, such as Dave Moss' idea to "just keep it simple," there is nothing simple about this play. In fact, it might take some audience members until the intermission to fully comprehend the events. The rest is a web of deception, sucking in everything from sympathy to fear.
With a simple set and suit-style costumes, the actions and dialogue of the characters are magnified. There is a more personal communication created by the actors' abilities to transform a mere table into a platform for negotiations, propelling the play into the cutthroat atmosphere of premium leads and nostalgia files.
Andy Gidwani is Roma, the cunning frontrunner of the male characters, whose philosophies cover everything from food to orgasms to facing hell on earth. And Gidwani succeeds admirably in helping the audience love Roma for his determination, yet despise him for his tricks.
In contention for top spot is Dave Moss (played by Jan-Michael Weir), whose hidden motives and aggressive demands are promoted sharply by Weir holding his own on stage. Along with Roma and Moss are George Aaronow, the gullible follower (played by Michael McIntyre), Joan Williamson (Erin Reid), the female manager blamed for almost everything and Levene (Scott Holden), whose initial, self-conscious mumblings evolve into smooth talk by the second half of the play.
Rounding out the cast are David Jeffrey as James Link, a second scene drunkard who later becomes a non-negotiator and Julian Bowers' Detective Baylin, whose sole goal is to aggravate almost every other character. Add in elements of humour, a twisted plot and new favourites in every scene and this production of Glengarry Glen Ross builds slowly but comfortably into a hit.
"Always tell the truth," Roma contemplates, though soon after his character lies while attempting to reclose a deal he thought he had nailed. So the truth is simple Glengarry Glen Ross is a captivating and entertaining escape. With only a few delays and one or two lost lines, this play is on its way to leaving a positive impression. After all, as Levene whimpers in the first scene, "all I want is a chance."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999