Friday, November 23, 2012

Theatre: Glengarry Glen Ross

By David Mamet
Little y Theatre
Directed by Mark Storen
Designed by Fiona Bruce
Featuring Georgia King, Ella Hetherington, Caris Eves, Holly Garvey, Leanne Curran, Alexandra Nell and Verity Softly
Music by Andrew Weir and Ben Collins
Blue Room Theatre
Until December 8
Leanne Curran and Georgia King
There’s a reason Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet’s Pulitzer, Olivier and Tony award-winning 1984 drama, is having major revivals all across the US.
It can be found in the forsaken suburban tracts and vacated foreclosures that have hollowed out many American cities, so much like the worthless developments that Mamet’s salesman are hawking to their unsuspecting clients.
Little y Theatre’s production at the Blue Room has an all-female cast (although it’s required to use the script’s male character names and pronouns). Even if you’re not a devotee of gender-swapping theatre, a revival of a play about real estate is as appropriate a place as any to do it.

Mamet’s characters are like Roman gladiators; their triumphs are brutal and short-lived, and their downfall is a breath, at most a day, away. They have no control or collateral to bring to the table, and people they have no access to mark their cards. Blinded by dust and maddened by blood, they can’t even tell whether the thumb points up or down for them.
In this world the office manager John (Georgia King) is both rooster and feather duster; he hands out the client leads, the best to his top performers, the scraps to the rest, but he depends on them as much as they do on him. And, as every sale is theft, and every sales pitch a lie, he is as unscrupulous as they are.
John’s top dog is Richard (Ella Hetherington), racking up the sales and with another dupe, Lingk (Caris Eves), in his sights. Meanwhile, Shelly Levine (Leanne Curran) is rapidly dropping off the sales chart and is desperate for a good lead, and a sale. One of their colleagues, Dave (Alexandra Nell) decides to steal the business’s precious contact sheets, and he inveigles the timid George (Holly Garvey) to be his accomplice. The overnight theft is discovered, a detective (Verity Softly) comes to interview the staff, and a savage, desperate game of betrayal and revenge plays out.     
King, Hetherington and Curran are in potent form as the three antagonists – there are no heroes here – and get generally strong support from the rest of the cast. Director Mark Storen deploys them at breakneck speed (a quick check reveals that the play normally comes in at around 85 to 90 minutes; this production stops the clock at 70), with staccato dialogue piling up on itself.
The talented Fiona Bruce’s design is dark, electric and uncompromising, and the everywhere man Joe Lui’s tetchy lighting crackles and splutters uneasily behind the action.
This combative, accusatory Glengarry Glen Ross won’t be everyone’s martini, but, in the hands of this gifted company, it’s a fine and prescient way to end the year in Perth theatre.

This review appeared in The West Australian 22.11.12

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