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Sold on real power

PUBLISHED: 18:17 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 17:26 16 August 2010

A SHARP and punchy production of David Mamet s award-winning 1984 play about the murky tactics of real estate sales was at the Edward Alderton Theatre last week, writes Steve Spencer. Peter Griffin directed a strong cast for the production of Glengarry

A SHARP and punchy production of David Mamet's award-winning 1984 play about the murky tactics of real estate sales was at the Edward Alderton Theatre last week, writes Steve Spencer.

Peter Griffin directed a strong cast for the production of Glengarry Glen Ross, managing the complexities of Mamet's nuanced and stuttering text with conviction and credibility.

The play focuses on four Chicago real estate salesmen and their supervisor who work together (and often against each other) to sell undesirable real estate at inflated prices.

It is the end of the month and emotions are running high as they vie to win the prized Cadillac and avoid the sack for worst performance.

We first meet the characters in a Chinese restaurant wheeler-dealing and plotting to secure the top prize.

Levene (John McLaren) is desperate to salvage his floundering career with the aid of Williamson (Stuart Keil), the office supremo who assigns the salesmen their leads; Moss (Richard Self) bullies Aaronow (Roger Gollop) into carrying out a break-in to steal leads; while Roma (Michael Martin) browbeats Lingk (Mark Campbell), an unwitting diner into closing a deal.

Peter Griffin's direction of the three vignettes showed a firm understanding of Mamet's interest in language and communication: individuals talk and listen but don't necessarily hear what is being said; unfinished sentences reveal half-truths; pauses, a moment for reflection for one becomes a chasm to be filled with more linguistic garbage by another; interruptions and non-sequitors abound; words are clipped.

The minimalism of Act 1 gave over to a stunning and "beautiful" symmetry in the real estate office of upturned chairs, raided filing cabinets, strewn papers and far flung sales ledgers (which earned a round of applause in its own right). Peter Griffin teased out an array of testosterone, male posturing, finger-wagging and palpable blood, sweat and tears as deals were closed, tricks exposed and careers deposed with the aid of investigator Baylen (Ian Long). All of this played out under the approving gaze of Ronald Reagan's tiny presidential photo on the wall, a timely reminder to the salesmen (and to us) of 80s Reaganomics.

With a uniformly solid cast, effective sound and cogent direction, this was a splendid evening's entertainment.

Well done EAT!

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