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REVIEW: Glengarry Glen Ross

July 26, 2017 2:21 pm0 commentsViews: 139
William Zielinski, Robert Kropf, Jason Lambert, and David Fraioli in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.

William Zielinski, Robert Kropf, Jason Lambert, and David Fraioli in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.

by Rebecca M. Alvin

Just before the lights went down at the Harbor Stage, a member of the audience remarked, “well, you can’t really mess this up; it’s Mamet.” True enough, Mamet’s writing is genius and Glengarry Glen Ross is a perfect example of his ability to make authentic dialogue do theatrical things without

ever turning false or overly dramatic, but when a theater company works with a Mamet play as well known as this one, there is a danger that the audience will sit back and passively absorb what they already know and not engage with the material as they would with a play they’d never seen before. In this case, that’s even more of a challenge since the play won a Pulitizer in 1984 and was made into a film in 1992 with an all-star cast that included Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, and Alan Arkin. 

The Harbor Stage is more than up for that challenge, bringing its own stellar cast to the stage with Robin Bloodworth as Williamson, William Zielinski as Levene, Jason Lambert as Aaronow, David Fraioli as Moss, Robert Kropf as Roma, Andrew Dolan as Lingk, and Dennis Cunningham as Baylen. The play is set in 1983 among a group of naturally competitive real-estate salesmen, Levene, Aaronow, Moss, and Roma, who are under the command of Williamson, despite their complete lack of respect for him. When Moss proposes that someone should break in and steal all the sales leads and take them to a rival company, the office is turned upside down and everyone finds themself a part of a police investigation.

As is typical of Mamet’s work, this play looks at broad themes relating to masculinity by focusing on this microcosm of male interactions. The manipulation and ever-fluid boundaries inherent in sales work heighten these themes and set up the brilliant dialogue. But the fully embodied, top level performances from this mostly Equity cast, match the material. Kropf, who also directs the fast-paced, dialogue-heavy script, demonstrates an excellent sense of timing and seamless staging. He and Zielinski are pure perfection as the old-time salesmen, as are Bloodworth, Lambert, and Fraioli in their roles as the less confident men of the office. The script, rife as it is with the everyday misogyny, machismo, racism, and homophobia that tend to go hand in hand in a male-dominated office, places us so deep inside this world that it almost feels voyeuristic. The performances that bring these magnificent words to life, as well as Kropf’s able direction, only enhance this, and in the process, breathe new life into a Mamet classic.

David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is performed  at the Harbor Stage, 15 Kendrick St., Wellfleet, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. through August 5, with a special show on Tuesday, August 1 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets ($22) and information call 508.349.6800 or visit harborstage.org.