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Glengarry Glen Ross

Bart Anderson and Eric McCormack. Phot by Emily CooperGlengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
Directed by Michael Shamata
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
July 22 to August 22, 2010

Vancouver, BC.  Drifting through the Stanley Theatre lobby at intermission, I  was struck by the unusual number of men engaged in lively and animated discussion about the events of the first act. There seems to be something about this Mamet piece (other than that it features an all-male ensemble), that makes it resonate more strongly than most productions with male audience members.  Maybe its the sense of watching a war-zone where only the strong and ruthless will survive, that makes it so much a man's play.

Or maybe not exclusively so.  This is the third version of Glengarry Glen Ross that I have seen (one being the film adaptation and the second  an outstanding equity-co-op production of Glengarry Glen Ross by a small group of fine local actors) and despite the fact that there is not a decent or sympathetic character whose fate one should care about - in fact they are all pretty despicable people - as before, I found myself completely caught up in the action.

Brian Markinson and John Pyper-Ferguson. Photo by Emily CooperSet in Chicago in in 1984, the play centres around a group of four  real estate salesmen, Levene (Gerard Plunkett), Moss (John Pyper-Ferguson), Aaronow (Brian Markinson) and Roma (Eric McCormack), and their office manager Williamson (Vincent Gale). Their job is to close deals in some less-than-desirable real estate developments, two of which are called Glengarry and Glen Ross.

Desperate to get to the top of the office sales leader-board, obtain viable leads to make their sales and avoid getting fired, they are completely unscrupulous in their dealings with each other and with gullible potential customers such as Lingk (Bart Anderson). A break-in, and the theft of the office leads, brings in a detective, Baylen (Darren Herbert) to figure out "who done it!"

It's a powerful script.  Mamet gets his points across in two short acts and hisGerard Plunkett and Vincent Gale. Photo by Emily Cooper trademark, fast paced, interrupted, overlapping dialogue keeps you on the edge of your seat so as not to miss what's happening.

The highly experienced cast in general were impressive.  I especially admired the scene with Pyper-Ferguson's portrayal of the fast-talking schemer Moss as he completely bamboozled the hapless Aaronow. I also loved the scene where Roma and "The Machine" Levene, effortlessly fed off each other's lies to overwhelm Roma's unwilling victim, Lingk. You could positively feel their exhilaration in playing the game, as without a scruple, they worked together to keep Lingk from getting out of his sales contract.

This is an excellent production of a play that  still engenders a morbid fascination with the characters wheeling and dealing on stage. It's like watching a series of potential train-wrecks and wondering which will happen first. The actual end however comes as a bit of an anti-climax instead of the abrupt, startling halt to the tension of the penultimate scene.

There are only a few performances left and it's really worth seeing. For tickets call  the Box Office at 604-687-1644  or  book online