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Whole World Theatre1
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REVIEWS

Glengarry Glen Ross, by David Mamet
Worthy of the set of steak knives
Friday, May 10, 2002
2.0
Whole World's first venture back into theater should have been a snap with Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," but unfortunately it does not live up to earlier "Whole World" stage productions like "Four Dogs and A Bone" and "The House of Yes." Glengarry is a perfect choice for the hip and irreverant theater, but the production fails to do the script justice. It is enjoyable at times, mainly when Patrick Wood, Dunning Silliman, and Jim Sligh are on stage. These three are the only ones to get the cadence of Mamet's language. Shay Coleman, as Roma, comes around in the Second Act, but unfortunately his Act I seduction scene is so far off base that it almost ruined the entire experience for me.

On the whole the production is highly uneven. In the first scene I would have been asleep if it weren't for the subtle reactions of Williamson (played by Sligh). Sligh proves that acting can be as much about reacting as anything else. Kudos to Sligh for carrying the opening scene just by listening, too bad that Levene (played by David Skoke) couldn't join him. Someone should tell Skoke that this is Mamet, it should start with a bang not an annoyance. Truth be told, I never could get behind Levene and that's a huge problem. I never bought it that he was down on his luck, because I never believed he could have been a success. Unfortunatley, he plays it a little too whiny and pathetic to keep our interest.

Finally, along comes scene 2 with Silliman and Wood nailing the nuances of the male relationship. Suddenly the show resembles Mamet. Wood's is a natural stand out with his portrayal of Moss. When these two characters started speaking, I wanted to jump up and shout "Finally, someone's speaking Mamet!" Wood's does an even better turn by flaunting his masculinity in our faces and reminding us that the male ego is at stake here. This is about competition, succcess, and winning and these two actors understand that.

Alas, though our spell is broken when Roma appears in the next scene speaking some other language entirely. Admittedly, this is the hardest scene in the entire play and it's evident that Coleman does not have enough experience or sophistication to know how to seduce us with language. Too bad really, this is where the poetry of the play resides and without it the grit and anger take on too much power.

Act 2 was better and seemed like a more typical interpretation of Mamet. The characters seemed to have a much better hold on the rhythm, but with nothing too excpetional too overcome the damage already done.

Maybe Act II, like Act I, Scene 2 worked better because the characters were actually allowed to move around a bit. In Act I there were entire scenes involving no blocking whatsoever. Maybe the director, Andreas, wanted the actors to looked trapped behind the desks and restaurant tables, but for the audience it was frustrating. First of all the furniture is so heavy and cumbersome that I'm surprised the actors can be seen at all. Secondly, unless you have spectacular chemistry or excellent reactions (like Sligh's in scene 1) then sitting still for half an hour only makes the audience want to squirm. In retrospect, it seemed that once the characters were able to move out from behind the massive desk furniture, they suddently became less wooden, more fluid, and a lot more interesting.

The space, though small, could have been used a little better and the set toned down a bit so that the lights hitting stark white did not blind the audience.
On the whole, the show isn't bad and any Mamet is better than no Mamet. If only all of them had been as good as Wood and Sligh, then we would have seen how mesmerizing Mamet can be. As it stands if this were a contest then they'd miss out on the Cadillac and win the set of steak knives. Not a total loss, but not a landslide either.
Let's just say if first prize is a Caddilac then this production might merit the set of steak knives.

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