Review: Glengarry Glen Ross – this cast deserves a Cadillac

The Arts Club forgoes ending their 2009/2010 Stanley season with its usual lighter summer fare, with a definite heavyweight in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.  Anchored by the return of Eric McCormack to the Arts Club stage after 14 years, this potty-mouthed character study is simultaneously utterly repugnant and utterly fascinating.  Just like it should be.

I remember my first encounter with Glengarry Glen Ross a number of years ago, wondering how I could possibly find any interest in a play about a bunch of sleazy real estate agents hawking questionable land in the early eighties.  It was also evident that it would only be with an unwavering commitment and great skill that the actors could possibly bring these foul characters to life and if they didn’t, they would fail miserably.  Fortunately, as with my first encounter with Glengarry Glen Ross, the talented cast currently on stage in this Arts Club production gives us a raw and visceral portrayal of masculinity and capitalism run amok.

As Shelley “The Machine” Levene who has recently encountered a dry spell in the sales game, Gerard Plunkett’s quiet desperation, within a sea of not so quiet machismo and slamming doors, is simply beautiful to listen to.  Eric McCormack’s Ricky Roma is so utterly convincing as the ultimate sleaze-master that when one of his marks, Bart Anderson as the henpecked Lingk, wants out of the deal I found myself feeling both sorry for Lingk and in awe at the size of Roma’s balls.  Brian Markinson brings some much needed relief via his character George Aaronow who, in this ocean of bubbling testosterone that surrounds him, finds just the right amount of apprehension in the game.

Glengarry Glen Ross
Daren Herbert, Gerard Plunkett, and Eric McCormack in the Arts Club production of Glengarry Glen Ross. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Set designer Kevin McAllister’s restaurant in act one didn’t quite capture the desperation that places like that always seem to have, but his second act office is perfect.  For some reason, given the caliber of actors on stage, the first act has the actors using microphones which resulted in much of Vincent Gale’s first scene amplified to the speakers above him and some nasty distracting feedback.

I know times are tough right now for the arts but from what I saw last night, this entire cast deserves a Cadillac.  How about it Bill?

4 out of 5 Stars Glengarry Glen Ross
Arts Club Stanley Theatre
22 July – 22 August 2010

Tickets are available online at http://www.artsclub.com or by calling 604-687-1644.

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