Photo from Ghosts

Ryushin Ensemble
Glengarry Glen Ross

David Mamet's 1984 play is pure dynamite. It's the type of play that provides a unique challenge for its performers in the sense that throughout his career as a playwright (and subsequently a screenwriter), Mamet has single-handedly created his own dialect; a rhythm of inflections pauses, repetitions - 'Mametspeak' - that performers must master for the play to succeed. Kudos to the cast of Paul Peers' production of Glengarry Glen Ross for the admirable effort they made in drawing the audience into Mamet's testosterone-fuelled frenzy, especially in such a restrictive environment.

Mamet drew on past experience for this play, which is set in and around a real estate office. The four salesmen are faced with a harsh predicament: management has bestowed upon them something of a contest, where first prize is a Cadillac, second prize is a set of steak knives, and the runners-up can clean their desks out in the morning. This is the lever Mamet uses to set his (male) characters against each other; the environment they attempt to tame threatens to swallow them whole. We watch as alliances are forged before our very eyes, only to realize that each man sees past his brother to the prize (or the punishment) and as they step on each other's heads, their only hope is the hustle, Mamet's characteristic plot device.

The Black Rose is perhaps not an obvious choice to stage a theatrical production, but somehow the tension of the play seemed to escalate in reaction to the intimacy forced upon the cast and the audience; the characters were trying to break free of their shitty circumstances, and all the while we had them cornered, completely closed off in case one of them might try to escape.

Daniel Gear

Ondit Magazine version 68.3 6/3/00