Curtain Call: Theatre Daedalus' "Glengarry Glen Ross"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In "Glengarry Glen Ross," playwright David Mamet gave us a play full of characters, one more unsavory than the next.

As we struggle to recover from the current economic mess, which can be at least partly attributed to some of those characters' real-life real-estate counterparts, this obscenity-drenched play resonates even more deeply than it did nearly three decades ago.

Theatre Daedalus presents a solid production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play under the nimble direction of Bo Rabby.

In an equally nimble move, the company has constructed the sets for each of the two acts at either end of the Wild Goose Creative space, turning the audience around during intermission. This literal change of perspective feels appropriate for a play that offers us a bitter perspective into the cutthroat morality that passes for honor within this particular band of thieves.

Times are hard in this little real estate office, so management has set up a contest where the winners get prizes and the losers get fired. Shelley Levene, once the star salesman, no longer closes the deals. In Randy Benge's hands, Levene pleads convincingly to John Williamson (Gregory Kimbro) to send better clients his way, with the assistance of a cut of his earnings.

Still hanging in there with the sales, Dave Moss (Nick Baldasare) figures he could do even better if he can persuade down-on-his-luck George Aranow (Joel Cohen) to help him with a scheme that will get them the best sales leads. Baldasare oozes slickness as he reels in the hapless Cohen, who sputters in disbelief at how he's been manipulated.

Particularly impressive is Tim Browning's Richard Roma, the current sales leader. We see how he got to that position, watching him in action as he cajoles, male-bonds and philosophizes his way into the trust - and the wallet - of a prospective buyer.

Browning has the presence to make Roma's machinations smooth and real. In Act Two, Browning and Benge play off each other expertly as they try to wheedle their way out of a tight spot. In this scene especially, the distinctive cadences of Mamet's testosterone-laden dialogue get a decent airing.

It's interesting to note the toll that time and inflation have taken on Mamet's wheelings and dealings. In the context of today's economy, the sums that his characters are fighting over verge on the comical. Just another reminder that, whether on the stage or in real life, the lies and maneuvers of unsavory characters remain the true obscenities.

When: Through March 27

Where: Wild Goose Creative, North Campus