Glengarry Glen Ross
Seattle Repertory Theatre
February 5 – 28, 2010
Glengarry Glen Ross’s commentary on American economics in the 1980s was undeniably brilliant. It’s no wonder it won the 1984 Pulitzer (serendipitous year, no?). However, the most thrilling and terrifying aspect is how a 1980s play about the 1970s economic scandal regarding land scams can speak so blatantly about our own 2010 national fiscal situation—not only in terms of dollars and cents, but political mores and socio-economic regulations.
All politics aside, however (though it would be impossible to take Glengarry Glen Ross without a basket full of political salt-grains), Wilson Milam’s production of David Mamet’s 1984 play at the Seattle Rep is, to say the least, gripping. The biggest challenge this production faces is the loss of momentum in the last several minutes. The staging begins to slowly pull the audience’s focus from the heart of the action to the outlying limbs before the lights go down. Perhaps this is intended, perhaps not. Either way, though an unfortunate loss in the locomotion, the play up to that point is unstoppable. Bringing together the design team from last year’s production of Connor McPherson’s The Seafarer, the Rep’s production takes a much more humorous approach to the dark and neurotic piece that is Glengarry Glen Ross. Milam’s direction uses his actors’ finely-honed comedic skills to bring to life every potential comic bit. Mind you this is not slap-stick; this is not a play that would be called “funny” like dogs in clothes are “funny,” but compared to the 1990s film adaptation it’s an absolute laugh-fest.
It’s useless to try to point out one or two actors from a cast in which the raw man-power (and I mean MAN power) took a two hour play and made it feel like the audience’s entire life flashed by in twenty-minutes. Therefore, a hearty slap-on-the-back to each and every man on stage for the chair-throwing, desk-kicking, man-shoving, spit-flinging performance put forth.
A special shout-out, as well, to Eugene Lee’s set design which – when you see this show (which you ought to do) – will be spectacularly self-evident.
There are many people who believe they’ve seen Glengarry Glen Ross because they’ve “watched the movie.” They’ve heard the words, they’ve seen people act out the scenes, but to truly see Glengarry Glen Ross, go see this production at the Seattle Rep—it brings this play to life.
Review by Andrew J. Perez