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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mamet's 'Glengarry Glen Ross' leaves this weekend

Alexander Strain (Richard Roma) and Rick Foucheux (Shelly Levene) in Round House Theatre’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross/Photo by Danisha Crosby


For theatregoers who can’t get enough, this is the last weekend to see David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross now on stage at the Bethesda Round House.

It is outstanding theatre with some of the best acting seen in the Washington area, and I am not just talking about a portion of the cast, but the entire cast.

Starring in the all male production are Jeff Allin, Conrad Feininger, Rick Foucheux, Stephen Patrick Martin, KenYatta Rogers, Alexander Strain, and Jesse Terrill.

This is not a performance for those only musically inclined and/or who like happyeverafter endings. Prepare to be shocked by coarse language which is not sprinkled here and there, but runs the gamut of the show which is harsh reality.  The speech is germane. 

It's all about a real estate office populated by desperate men who employ desperate measures to save themselves from the bleak economic environment. 

Mamet (b. 1947) worked in a real estate office in Chicago, where he grew up, and likely observed similar verbal exchanges (on a reduced level) to those he wrote about in Glengarry, as have any of us who have worked in a real estate office, or in any office for that matter.

Driven into a corner, the crazed salesmen respond like animals, like most humans would. How about you? 

The set by James Kronzer is marvelous and surely will gain a Helen Hayes nomination.  A Chinese restaurant starts the play and is so lifelike, I could almost smell Chinese. The backdrops and the clinking of china stage the play in the 1970s but it could be any time.

Conrad Feininger (George Aaronow) and Jeff Allin (Dave Moss) in Round House Theatre’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross/Photo by Danisha Crosby
The next scene is the real estate office, typical of any office "back then": an unkempt business filled with wooden desks, doors, filing cabinets, and paper, lots of paper.

It's a short play (80 minutes) which never languishes. Glengarry Glen Ross won the Pulitzer for Best Drama and New York Drama Critics Circle for Best American Play in 1984.

Helen Hayes would also do well to nominate Glengarry's lighting designer (Daniel Maclean Wagner) in addition to all the actors (is this what the Outstanding Ensemble Award is about?) and, certainly, the director, Mitchell Hebert.

Plus, (another plus) the Bethesda Round House was a marvelous venue.  It was my first visit there, and I was delightfully surprised by the accommodations, the services, and the ushers, one of whom told me the actors would be disappointed with just a half-full house on a Saturday afternoon, but it was more than a respectable showing, I thought, considering all the competition for time in Washington, D.C.

My only regret is my tardiness filing this post.  Professional theatregoers will not want to miss it. 

P.S. The Paris Review has a great interview with Mamet from 1997.

Prices at the Round House start at $26.

Bethesda Round House Theatre
4545 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
Ph. 240-644-1100

Metro station:  Bethesda (one block away)

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patricialesli@gmail.com


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