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Glenngarry Glenn Ross

The Gritty World of Real Estate Salesmen

By Dan Tortorice

Staff Writer

Glenngarry Glenn Ross

Lyric Stage

March 15 - April 13 7:30pm

Written by David Mamet

Directed by Spiro Veloudos

David Mamet’s Glengarry Glenn Ross is one of the great plays of the last 25 years. A Pulitzer Prize winner for drama in 1984, it dramatizes the desperation of salesmen in Mamet’s gritty Chicago style. The Lyric Stage’s production of the play is top notch. Excellent performances by the actors and nice choices for scenery and layout make Mamet’s real estate world come alive.

The premise of the play is simple. Four real estate agents working in an office stage a contest. The one who sells the most units by the end of the month gets a Cadillac. The second place salesman gets a pair of steak knives. Third and fourth place get fired.

As the play begins a gritty rock and roll theme plays on bass guitar sets the mood nicely. The set design is simple: two red, booth style chairs, a table, and a large golden dragon hanging in the background. This set keeps to Mamet’s minimalistic style, while clearly evoking a Chinese restaurant. The first scene contains two characters: the real estate agents’ boss, and an agent, Shelly Levene, who we soon find out is losing the contest. The boss sits with his back to the audience, leaving the focus on the agent, who is clearly the lead.

Unfortunately, Ken Baltin (Levene) did not take full advantage of the situation. He was unable to bring out the true sense of desperation his character feels with his job on the line. To his defense, the audience was small, and low energy levels may have made it difficult for him to initially settle into his character. By his next appearance in the play, Mr. Baltin had settled nicely into his role, making Levene’s emotions palpable to the audience.

In the third scene of the play, we meet Richard Roma, the salesman winning the contest. From smooth speech to suave manner, Ted Reinstein is completely convincing as Roma, capturing perfectly his slick confidence. Mark S. Cartier also gives a commendable performance as the worrisome, squirmy agent Aronow, who, despite the likely loss of his job, is more resigned then desperate.

The play culminates in one scene in the second act, set in the real estate office. In contrast to the simple set of the first act, elaborate props create a convincing office that does justice to Mamet’s real estate world. Unfortunately, the Lyric Stage doesn’t have a curtain, so intermission was spent watching the stage managers set up the office. Attention to detail made up for this inconvenience, however. The director made an interesting choice in staging the last scene. The boss’ office is indicated by only a door frame and the audience is able to see the characters miming conversations in the office while the main action of the play takes place outside with the audience. While I found this annoying for most of the second act, it nicely highlights the final moments of the play. The Lyric Stage’s Production nicely captures Mamet’s gritty world.