Loathsome Characters Make For Intriguing F-ing Play

June 4, 2010

Picking a favorite character in “Glengarry Glen Ross” is near impossible. They’re just all so darn unlikable.

But that’s what makes the Little Theatre Group’s latest production so intriguing. The Pulitzer Prize-winning David Mamet classic runs through June 13 at the Laurence Olivier Theater in San José. This season-ending play cranks up the intensity for the Little Theatre Group with an unabashedly profane drama.

The play places four real estate salesmen in a cruel competition. The corporate heads at Chicago-based Mitch and Murray decide to offer prizes to the salesmen at the real estate office. Top prize is a Cadillac. The third- and fourth-place finishers get the ax. Vulgar language and sadistic barbs fly once the cutthroat competition is under way.

The characters all have sympathetic qualities, but in the course of two days their worst traits are exposed.

Lead Shelly Levene (played by Grady Bruce) is a once-great salesman reduced to something pathetic and desperate. Also forced into competition is the hotheaded David Moss (Larry Shaw), the milquetoast George Aaronow (Arnie Harrison) and the charming, successful and totally amoral Richard Roma (Gary Zelman). They all work under the supervision of ruthlessly loyal company man John Williamson (David Nissan).

Mamet, a master of dialogue, uses fast-talking conversations and robust profanity to elicit both laughs and some of the play’s most malicious moments.

“The original script contains 139 uses of the F word,” director Tom Humes said. “Some of the profanity has been cut from this version, but the majority of it remains; the play would suffer without it.”

One scene that takes place between Aaronow and Moss at a Chinese restaurant showcases a superb example of Mamet-speak.

Humes did an excellent job of casting the parts. Each actor knows his character well. As the play progressed, the actors seemed to embody their characters better.

As a result, the audience starts to wonder: Will everyone lose their minds and their morals in order to save their jobs?

“Glengarry Glen Ross” runs through June 13, with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, at the LaurenceOliverTheater on Avenida 2, Calle 28. For reservations, call 8858-1446 or visit www.littletheatregroup.org.

–Matt Levin

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