Thursday, 17 July 2014

Glengarry Glen Ross, July 18, 2014 ***1/2

By David Mamet, Melbourne Theatre Company 
MTC Southbank Theatre, The Sumner, opens July 18 to Aug 9, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***1/2
Review also published online in Herald Sun on Friday July 18, 2014, and later in print. KH
Alex Dimitriades, Nick Barkla, John McTernan, Justin Stewart Cotta
 The dramatic action in David Mamet’s plays is driven by his gritty characters and scarifying dialogue.

In Glengarry Glen Ross, Mamet penetrates the world of shonky, real estate salesmen in Chicago during the early 1980s, characterising these men as desperate, brutal con artists who deceive and manipulate both their unwitting clients and colleagues.

The Florida real estate market is foundering, useful client ‘leads’ have dried up and those salesmen who cannot close contracts and make a buck will be fired by the absentee company directors.

This is a callous world that is dominated by aggressive men whose constant streams of expletives and searing invective burn like hot gravel on skin.

Greg Stone is outstanding as Moss, the resentful, disaffected and vitriolic middle-aged salesman who has a dangerous plan to beat the bosses at their own game.

Alex Dimitriades is compelling and audacious as the ruthless young winner, Roma, who would sell his own children for a profit, and Brett Cousins gives an assured performance as Lingk, Roma’s obliging and timid, new client.

Director, Alkinos Tsilimidos, keeps the pace rapid, the action and interaction realistic and the focus on characters and relationships, although the style and direction do not break any new ground.

The edge of anxiety and recklessness is reflected in Shaun Gurton’s naturalistic set design that replicates a shabby 1983 office complete with chalkboard and bad posters of Florida.

John McTernan is sympathetic as Shelly Levene, the vulnerable, blustering, old warhorse who is, in some ways, the centre of this story as he struggles to regain the status he once enjoyed as top seller. McTernan is at some disadvantage because he only recently replaced Steve Bisley in the role and is still using the script on stage.

Rodney Afif plays the hapless Aaronow with anxious neediness and Nick Barkla is suitably brusque and corporate as the office manager, Williamson.

Glengarry Glen Ross is a fine example of Mamet’s writing and this production is sure to stabilise as the ensemble finds its new balance.

By Kate Herbert

Rodney Afif (George Aronow), Nick Barkla (John Williamson), John McTernan (Shelly Levene), Alex Dimitriades (Richard Roma), Justin Stewart Cotta (Baylen), Greg Stone (Dave Moss), Brett Cousins (James Lingk)

Director Alkinos Tsilimidos; Set Designer Shaun Gurton;
Costume Designer Jill Johanson; Lighting Designer Nigel Levings;
Composer & Sound Designer Tristan Meredith;
Voice and Dialect Coach Anna McCrossin-Owen

 Greg Stone (Dave Moss), Rodney Afif (George Aaronow)

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