Mamet Opens at both Theater J and Round House – GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and RACE Share Reviews!

We’re extraordinarily proud of our production of RACE which has opened and is creating plenty of heat in the theater, while 7 miles up the road, Mamet’s GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS has opened at Round House Theatre–a production I’ve now seen twice this week. Both plays speak volumes about Mamet’s usefulness as a dramatist — and both productions speak beautifully for the extraordinary talent in our community, in all realms: acting, directing and design. These are two superb renderings. Proud to be so closely aligned with Round House on this venture as well, as we share marketing energies (and wall-space, discounts, ad placements), audience, and brain power. In a separate posting, we’ll discuss the upcoming RACE IN AMERICA: WHERE ARE WE NOW? Symposium which will conclude with a consideration of David Mamet at this particular crossroads in his career — a panel I’ll co-moderate with Round House Theatre’s artistic Director Ryan Rillette, and we’ll be joined by the director of RHT’s GLENGARRY, Mitchell Hebert (who, of course, won a 2012 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in Resident Theatre Production for his performance in last season’s AFTER THE FALL) and by actor Kenyatta Rogers of the RHT production of GLENGARRY, joining an estimable panel of other theater biggies including Joy Zinoman (founding artistic director of Studio Theatre, Javier Rivera (Assistant Professor Theatre/Music Theatre at American University), and Jennifer Nelson, writer/director and former producing director, African Continuum Theatre Company).

Reviews for RACE are in and they’re both sizzling and less than that. The omnibus reviews (2 for the price of 1) are disappointing in that so little space (only 350 words in the Post) is accorded to the actual write-up of RACE. But then RACE has never been everyone’s cup of tea. It’s ranged all over the place since it’s 2009-2010 commercially successful run on Broadway. Here’s a run down of the press so far:

4.5 stars out of 5 in DC Metro Theater Arts by Sydney-Chanele Dawkins

3 out of 4 stars in Washingtonian “…controversial case feels more relevant than ever” – by Missy Frederick

‘Race’ and veracity at Theater J – Washington Jewish Week, by Lisa Traiger

‘Race’ and ‘Good People’ Reviewed in Washington City Paper by Bob Mondello

and just out, GLENGARRY and RACE reviewed together by Peter Marks in The Washington Post “Two Mamet plays are on the boil on D.C. stages”

So there’s the round-up. The HUGE Weekend Symposium awaits.

Eager for your responses to both RACE and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.

Jimmy Walen and Michael Anthony Williams in RACE

Jimmy Whalen and Michael Anthony Williams in RACE

Alexander Strain and Rick Foucheux in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS at Round House

Alexander Strain and Rick Foucheux in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS at Round House

Michael Anthony William, Jimmy Walen, and Leo Erickson in RACE

Michael Anthony William, Jimmy Whalen, and Leo Erickson in RACE

43 thoughts on “Mamet Opens at both Theater J and Round House – GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS and RACE Share Reviews!

  1. One of the more intriguing parts of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” is how Shelley and George’s roles change over the course of the play. Shelley starts out as an obviously desperate, bargaining man, but for the most part he seems to be able to hold his own. He leads the conversation, takes in the direction he wants, and even though he is making a lot of sacrifices, there are promises for and confidence in the future if he manages to get those leads. On the other hand, George barely gets a word in edgewise in his scene, and he appears to be easily manipulated by Dave into agreeing to steal the leads. This leads to conflicting atmospheres of joviality and tension going into the second act, as Shelley is on top of the world with his sale and it only seems like a matter of time before the hard-hitting policeman discovers who robbed the office.

    Ultimately, Shelley’s biggest mistake is that he fails to heed Richard’s advice to “never open your mouth unless you know what the shot is,” even when he repeats the statement to John, leading to his arrest (though, out of personal preference I thought it would have more of an impact if the quote was treated as subtle foreshadowing and moved earlier in the play). Meanwhile, George is sent away from the office for lunch due to his tirade, but other than that, he is not in a particularly worse position from where he started. Maybe he is not having a great month, but at least he is not going to jail.

    As a testament to the shifting power structures, it is fascinating how quickly John was able to turn around the situation with Shelley late in the play and really gain power of his own. Within the Chinese restaurant, he is obviously in a higher position than Shelley in how he is able to deny him the best leads, constantly ratchet the price of the deal up, and disregard Shelley’s sputtering by casually enjoying his meal. However this security only comes from the status of his job, and at first Mamet appears to be pointing that out when Richard tears him apart in the second act. But when John notices the gaff in Shelley’s lecture, he regains control of the situation and asserts his superiority through his own merit, proving his competence. He wins by listening carefully, a skill that none of the other real estate agents seems to have.

    Regarding the similarities between “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “RACE” one theme I noticed as a result of the post-show discussions was the concept of the end of an era for certain characters. In “Glengarry Glen Ross,” Shelley constantly alludes to how good of a real estate agent he used to be, spitting out exact sales amounts as frantic justification. He lives off of his past glory and looks down on John for not being there. Ironically, one of his major shortcomings is that he does not have the past knowledge of his mentally unwell clients to know that his deal was going to fall through, and with his arrest he clearly will not be making any more sales soon. But overall, as one of the actors said, it is just another day at the office for the rest of the business. “RACE” marks the end of a familiar territory for Jack and Henry as they have to realize they no longer function in a predominantly “white man’s world.” They can no longer make jokes about race and have to actually face it head-on, which could prove to further destabilize their business, regardless of whether the most overt sign of the change, Susan, remains with their company.

    • Mary – I love how you chose to frame the angle, particularly with regards to the comparisons between our two most recent shows. You are right that the trajectories between both (in Race there is little development with regards to the characters’ own perspectives; in GGGR, the characters learn but are still bent on reminding people of their ‘numbers’) are similar. The competitive drive between internal struggle and conception (Race) and show-off on numbers, sales, and drive (GGGR) is an interesting take, and I love how you framed things in terms of acts, which you are quick to note (and which I wouldn’t have so easily picked up on given there was no intermission). I think this is an important lens to view through going forward — the breakdown in acts is certainly telling in terms of the writing / narrative. Thanks for broadening my scope!

    • Mary:

      I don’t think I would have ever drawn the same similarity as you between “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “RACE.” I found your concept of an end of an era for certain characters to be intriguing and very accurate. It’s definitely not something I would think of right away, but after reflecting upon you post, I have to agree with you. Shelley, in Glengarry Glen Ross, seems to be living in the past. He cannot let go of what he used to be and he is putting unrealistic pressure on himself to live up to his old standards, without realizing where he is now. In RACE, I don’t necessarily think that there is an end to an era of a predominantly “white man’s world,” like you stated previously. I think that Jack and Henry have come to the realization that times are changing and they need to change the way they communicate and make assumptions, while still understanding the racial boundaries and inequalities that exist in the world. I think Susan snuck up on them and they didn’t expect much from her, being a woman. The characters in RACE have their eyes opened to the world of social justice and the prejudices that exist arround target and agent identies.

      Overall, both plays have similar characteristics and call out issues that are usually pretty sensitive to talk about. Mamet doesn’t dance around feelings–he tackles these topics head on and leaves the audience feeling exposed, yet somehow comfortable.

  2. The performance of Glengarry Glen Ross at Round House Theater Bethesda rivals Race as my favorite play thus far. The set that was created for this production of Glengarry Glen Ross was truly remarkable. When the set rotated 180 degrees, transforming from a Japanese restaurant into a real-estate office, the crowd roared with applause. This is the first time in my life I have heard a crowd applaud a set.
    The post show discussion flowed much like the David Mamet play that preceded it. Alexander Strain made a very interesting statement when asked how he prepared for his role as Roma, the hard charging salesman. Strain spoke to the pressures of being a freelance actor and its similarities to a salesman paid only on commission. Strain said, “every time you go into an audition, you have to sell yourself to a director, you have to make them like you. Hopefully, you get enough directors to like you that you can make a career out of it.” Strain and the other actors performances were incredibility convincing because of the desperation you felt and heard in their voice. Despite most of the characters being scum, I found myself pulling for them to make a sale. They needed those sales to live, and the feeling of deprecation was palpable.
    Another interesting dynamic in the play was the use of vulgar langue, which is a constant theme in both of the David Mamet plays we have seen. Alexander Strain also spoke to the strong langue in the post-show discussion. Strain, who was born in Great Britain, spoke to the cultural difference between his native land and the United State. He mentioned how the swearing does not have the same weight in his homeland as it does in American theaters. He was careful to note that his character Roma does not use vulgar langue because of a lack of adequate vocabulary; but, instead, uses these words as weapons to cut his competition down. Like a drowning man, his character, Roma, is willing to step on anyone in order to get his head above water, or on top of the board.

    • Brian,

      I’m glad you brought up the audience’s applause for the set. I guess it’s just a really famous set, and they were glad to see how spot on the layout was. I had seen the movie before the play, so when we sat down in our seats, the first thing we saw was the Chinese restaurant. It was a simple but stirring setting, and I was glad the actor at the end mentioned the connection between the characters’ jobs, the warrior-like drums, and the samurai swords in the restaurant; it’s these subtle decisions a director makes that boost a play from good to great. The office set was also fantastic. I love the line always be closing, and I’m glad the set designer put the lettering on the competition board, just like in the film. The play was a joy to watch, and the amazing sets just added to my enjoyment.

  3. I hate to compare two plays which may have intended to be so different, but I see comparisons between different tenets of both “Race” and “GlenGarry” so I’d like to draw attention to: Race had an almost entirely male cast, balanced out only by the sole female in it, who nonetheless lent a bold air to an otherwise male-dominated cast, and subsequently played a vital role in the make up of the stage. GlenGarry, conversely, had an all-male cast, which I think could have hurt it (had certain plays had this going, the ideas would have been 180 degrees different), but instead this lent credibility to what was being done. This is a play about 80s businessman, in it for the brutal nature of the work day, the competition, the drive, the relentlessness, which is lent an incredible amount of validity in the same way several of these tactics are lent to the modern day productions of shows like, “Mad Men.”

    “Mad Men” is a show about advertising; this of course is about real estate and the ‘leads’ that lead to sales in this business. The characters on the AMC drama fight for different advertising accounts, and demean women in their treatment and dialogue about them, whether to their face and directly or in private conversation and indirectly. In GGGR, however, there is not a female on the stage to defend an air of what could have been chauvinistic conversation, but instead left that out of the script to focus solely on the raw 80 minutes of in-fighting. That is a perfect word, in my opinion, to describe this play: raw. We want to know who stole the leads but are distracted by the bare bones, raw nature of what is going on. We want to know what the characters are thinking, to delve further at various moments, but are deflected by the raw, shear presence of the actions going on in front of us.

    I’ve seen the film depiction of this script, and I remember liking it very much. Not remembering the intricacies, I’d love someone to point out the differences between the play and film, as I recall very little if any, but could certainly be very wrong.

    Now that we’ve established “Mad Men” versus GlenGarry, comparing it once more to “Race,” we would see that both have the same raw, profane language. I like Mamet for just this reason – the play and its characters say what he seemingly wants to convey. There is little to figure out; it’s all on the table. We live in a world today where I can’t say “hell” in an office without getting glances (or in some dorm rooms), and both “Race” and “GGGR” (and “Mad Men”) all depict characters who steal to fight for their lives, defend their background, race, and culture, and do what they please, when and how they please. It’s an admirable trait in a person – even if these are disgusting, profane, chauvinistic, immoral people – a paradoxical takeway only showrunners like Matt Weiner or play gurus like David Mamet could pull off.

    • Brandon—I had never thought about how different the play would have been if there had been a few females in the cast. I think the all-male cast is accurate to the 1980’s, so like you said, it lends credibility, but it would have been fun to see a woman on stage. Although I don’t think the dynamics would have been the same in reality, it would have been entertaining to see a woman being a part of the vulgar interactions in the “boy’s club” of 1980’s real estate sales. I also agree, Mamet definitely lays everything out for the audience. Like when Roma was mad at Williamson—the audience certainly knew. Lastly, great comparison to “Mad Men”—there certainly are similarities.

  4. Seeing another play by Mamet was interesting because it was like being exposed to a repertoire of his work, and it makes me interested in seeing more plays by him so that I can say that I truly know Mamet’s work.

    My experience viewing “Glengarry Glen Ross” was very different from my experience watching “Race.” Watching “Race,” I was intrigued throughout the play and drawn in by the dialogue. The message it was trying to convey was very poignant and obvious to me; it was one that spoke to me on a real and personal level. Watching “Glengarry Glen Ross” was almost a completely opposite experience. I did not really understand the premise of the play when it began, and it was not until the middle of the play that I began to become more enthralled by the play, and this was mainly due to the language dynamics.

    I found it interesting that John, the character played by Kenyatta, was not originally written for an African American person, but that he ended up playing this particular role. The language that was hurled at him during the play was some of the harshest, and this is a character that does not have as much foul language as other characters, but instead has several silences in his script. Just the different language that John had compared to other characters made his race even more salient in the play to me.

    In one of my classes I learned the different ways that people communicate, which can be influenced by identities. I learned about the dominant language used more frequently by men and how women typically use language that attempts to equalize power, like saying sorry when there is really nothing to apologize for is often a way just to equalize feelings of dominance and not really to apologize. My professor also brought up the fact that males of color also might use a mix of traditionally feminine and masculine language, as men of color are still oppressed in society. I found the parallels between what I learned in class and in this play to be very applicable.

    Considering that this was a play about mainly high-powered businessmen who were all white with the exception of one character, the language was powerful—yes, but not too surprising considering the context. Although I realize the character of John being black was more coincidental as a result of color-blind casting than purposeful, the strength that it had on the relations between the characters in the play was profound to me. Instead of cursing back at Richard when he became infuriated at him for ruining a sale for him, John he just stood there in silence. While I was watching the play I read this as the differences in language between men occupying different identities. I found that connecting to this play was difficult for me considering the context and my confusion about what message the play conveyed to me. While what I took from this play was more due to the casting than the actual premise of the play itself, I still found it thrilling to go to another Mamet play.

    • I think that your points about men occupying different identities in this play were especially interesting. Your thoughts about the different ways in which people communicate being influenced by identity especially insightful because it was certainly apparent in this play with an all male cast and the way in which language was often used to assert dominance. Especially apparent in this play is the crude and blunt use of language (much like what we saw in “Race”) and I’m glad you took the time to connect that to identity. Beyond that I think that I can agree with your statement about having a different experience between viewing “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Race” and I don’t doubt that was intended. I think I took less away from Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” than “Race” play simply because of the at times overwhelming heteronormative dynamics of this play.

  5. This past Thursday we saw another David Mamet play—this time “Glengarry Glen Ross.” After seeing two Mamet plays I feel like I make some assertions about his style. It seems he likes profanity…a lot. He threw around the N word in “Race” and the C word in “Glengarry Glen Ross” like it was child’s play. I was slightly uncomfortable with it, but I think I was supposed to be, and it also added to the play. During an amazing Q & A session with the cast of “Glengarry Glen Ross” following the show, someone asked what the message of the play was. I’m not sure if I got some grand message about morals—I think for me I watched these characters and thought to myself “Never let yourself get this desperate, greedy, and unkind.”

    It was weird talking to the actors after, and seeing their actual personalities—which they were all very kind and considerate in answering our questions and putting up with a large group of non-Theater students. A big shout-out to the cast who did a fantastic job. The pace of the play was extraordinarily fast and when it ended I was genuinely surprised at how quickly the 80 minutes had gone by.

    I was very surprised when the audience found out it had actually been Levene who had robbed the office and not Aaronow—who had been set up to rob the office in the Chinese Restaurant scene. My favorite character (if one can have a favorite among a group of conniving, overly-ambitious and self-motivated liars) was Williamson. He took so much crap from Levene and Roma. I felt so bad for the guy when the office was robbed and these two continually belittled him. Luckily, he got some of his pride back in the end—which was my favorite moment in the play. Levene, who had been so jacked about his big sale, had told Williamson over and over again how he was worthless and lacked any experience in sales only to find out that Williamson knew more than he gave him credit for. Williamson revealed to Levene that he knew for months now that the couple was crazy, and the freshly inked check given to Levene was no good. That was a great moment—when Levene had to admit/acknowledge that Williamson was doing his job.

    • I totally agree with you about the lack of a “big moral.” After feeling overwhelmed with how thought-provoking Race was, it was definitely a different experience to see the scum-of-the-earth characters in Glengarry. I think it would have been different to have seen Race second — maybe we wouldn’t have expected such a grand message and instead would have found more depth in the subtle teachings of Glengarry.

      I was also really surprised to learn that Levene robbed the office. Its interesting that both plays include a mystery — did Charles Strickland rape her? who robbed the office? — but neither of the plays really focus on solving that mystery. Rather, Mamet uses these plots to examine human nature and relationships. In fact, Mamet is so skilled in his character development that I didn’t really end up needing a resolution to the mysteries.

      • Kate – you’ve got some awesome insights here. Sorry my response to them is late! I will be more timely next time around. I think if we had seen these plays in the opposite order, I would have been much more fond of “Glengarry Glen Ross” and maybe not so utterly blown away by “Race”. Maybe it’s because I’m not a theater expert, but I seem to look for the broad, worldly messages before paying attention to nuance.

        Also, fascinating point about the use of the “mystery” convention. Although Mamet belongs in a different literary universe than authors of magic realism (my favorite genre of literature), his use of the “mystery” convention to illustrate other messages reminded me much of how authors like Garcia Marquez, Cortozar, and Bolano use the same genre. They usurp “mystery” because of its staple as a familiar genre, and then, relying on its sexiness and intrigue, use it as a gateway into readers’ hearts so they can start asking much more difficult questions. Mamet seemed to do this too.

    • I was also very surprised that Levene had robbedm the office, and I was even more surprised when Williamson victoriously revealed to Levene that the couple with the $82,000 was crazy. I’m not sure if I had a favorite moment in the play–It wasn’t exactly uplifting,so I’m not sure if I could accurately say that I particularly liked a specific part–but I was impressed by the way Mamut included that detail in the script. Personally, I found it very hard to like Levene, despite the fact that he had been down on his luck for quite a while. His lack of humility and honesty was very irritating to me, so I was happy that Williamson got the best of him in the end. That is not to say that I was happy with Williamson’s character—I found him to be remarkably caught up with the office politics as well. None of the characters seemed to have a single moral value in them at all, and that was disappointing and distracting to me. I find it hard to believe that you could find an office in which five people with such malfunctioning moral compasses actually exist.

    • Kimberly,
      I love that you brought up the fact that meeting the cast after the play you were shock about the actors actually personalities. I too could not believe how friendly the actors were in real life, after having watched them sling painful words at one another throughout the play. Meeting the actors after the play really makes you appreciate how skilled they are. As someone who has never acted, I often forget during the play that the actors are doing just that……. acting. I forget that the characters they are playing often nothing like the actor’s true personality. This ability to take on the characteristics of another person is a skill that I truly admire and envy. Roma’s character in particular, seemed to be as far from the actual personality of Alexander Strain.

  6. Mamet’s style of dialogue made both RACE and GLENGERRY GLEN ROSS incredibly thrilling to watch. At the same time, however, the speed and harshness of the dialogue made it difficult to connect to the characters in both productions. The audience doesn’t get the luxury of an explanation. In both plays, we are thrown right into three fast-paced discussions with unknown names and words being thrown across the stage. In GLENGEARRY, while watching the scene at the Chinese restaurant, I felt like I was eavesdropping on the three different tables. If it weren’t for the similar words being used between these tables — Glengerry, Glen Ross, Mitch-and-Murray (said so fast it almost sounds like one word at first) — it may not even seem like these different restaurant goers were related.

    In both post-show discussions, the actors brought up the fact that Mamet’s works can be alienating to audiences. I certainly think that the profane and crude words can be difficult for audiences to hear, but I think for me the most alienating part was how difficult it was to even access the dialogue. I had seen the movie version of GLENGARRY before seeing the play, so I understood that first scene a lot better than when I saw RACE. I think I enjoyed GLENGARRY more because I felt an immediate connection the characters’ discussions.

    I think the biggest effect of this complicated dialogue is that it makes the audience feel vulnerable. Mamet makes the audience feel very much on “the outside,” and consequentially we spend the production trying to find some type of connection. I think this vulnerability makes us more open to whatever underlying theme Mamet is trying to throw our way. Every word used is very deliberate with the intention of pushing the audience away and then pulling them back.

    • Hi Katharine, I really agree with you when you said “I think the biggest effect of this complicated dialogue is that it makes the audience feel vulnerable. Mamet makes the audience feel very much on “the outside,” and consequentially we spend the production trying to find some type of connection.” I was having a hard time to follow the dialogue but fortunately it’s not difficult to follow the entire plays.
      We all have noticed of the huge amount of professional languages that have been written in both of the plays; and I was surprised how much Mamet knows about the business in fields such like Laws and Real Estate. I think he must devoted a lot of energy to do the research. Not only that, as we could see the personalities and habits of the characters are well-presented, Mamet must have observed the people in those fields so that he could write in details.
      Although feeling difficult to get involved in, I was impressed by his works as well as those excellent actors who could understand him and nicely transformed his words into plays.

  7. After seeing “Race” I had some pretty high expectation of Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.” I came to the play knowing nothing about the premise of the play, and was a little let down after the challenging social commentary “Race” provided. “Glengarry Glen Ross” (which has no female characters) takes place in the hyper-masculine space of the 1980s sales office. The actors all beautifully performed their roles as fast-talking, incredibly self-centered, consumerist businessmen, who care (and talk) about little other than how to get to the top. The end-all prize: a new Cadillac.

    Had we not been able to participate in a post-show discussion I’m not sure I would have walked away with much respect for this work of Mamet. Kenyatta talked to us about what he thought Mamet was trying to get across in the play by focusing on the warrior-mentality of the American dream. In the program for the play there is a quote by Mamet which explains that he wrote the play as a commentary on the cut-throat notions of success (and, by extension, masculinity) in the 1980s. “Instead of rising with the masses [in America] one should rise from the masses. Your extremity is my opportunity,” Mamet said. I couldn’t exactly tell from the play whether Mamet hoped audiences would relate on some level with these men, or despise them. Possibly both.

    If I think about “Glengarry Glen Ross” as a commentary on the corruption of this lifestyle I can better appreciate it (as I guess one is supposed to appreciate a Pulitzer Prize winning piece). “Race,” however, was more challenging and inspiring for me. It made me really think about how race is treated today, and about the embedded (or blatant) racism in our everyday lives. It made me think about sexism and the legitimacy of the legal system. “Glengarry Glen Ross” only reminded me of a lifestyle I have really no invested interest in. I am not a part of their boys-club nor do I ever see myself as an active participant in the sales/business world.

    This particular production of the “Glengarry Glen Ross” was, however, a great collaborative artistic achievement. The set was incredible. As Kenyatta pointed out, the set and lighting and sound all worked to further emphasize masculinity. The actors were all spectacular. For anyone who loves this work of Mamet I’m sure they will have a blast. Personally, I was much more impressed with the script of “Race.”

    • Austin, I fully agree with what you said about the plotline of Glengarry Glen Ross being less relevant in comparison to Race. Race was definitely more inspiring for me and left me with a lot that I wanted to express during the discussion. I had to think a lot harder about takeaways from Glengarry Glen Ross. I enjoyed how well the play was executed, from the spot on character casting to the (quite effective) set layout, but the script just didn’t resonate. I think arguments can be made that Glengarry Glen Ross is still relevant today (as some of these posts demonstrate), but perhaps not in my life.

    • Austin, I agree with what you say a lot in your post. During the play, I was struggling and not really sure what to take from it on a personal level, but the after-show discussion brought the play more to life for me. It was also refreshing for me to hear the actors talk because I was reminded that they are real people and that they were not the material-driven men they played on stage.

      While I personally was not very enthralled while watching this play, your comment reminded me to appreciate the acting and the actors who were performing their craft. The chemistry and the fast-paced connection of the actors in this show were good, and very similar to the level of interaction that I saw with the actress/actors in “Race.” Listening to these actors talk after the show reminded me that while I did not like the materialism and selfishness that I saw during the play, it was because the actors did such a good job of portraying their roles the way that they were supposed to.

  8. It was such a wonderful experience to see another David Mamet’s play.
    Mamet’s plays always have more than one main themes that different person would hold different perspectives towards the plays. In terms of this play Glengarry Glen Ross, some indicate that it implies the significance of gender roles in American society. The play is a mainly workplace setting and since there are all male actors, it shows that female were not the main force in workplace as well as political world among that period of time.

    Others indicate the play is about the individual success in American society. In this individualism environment, people consider themselves much more often than seen themselves as a part of the group. And some people enjoy seeing other people’s failures. Individual happiness is what they value the most. I would like to share a little more about this. As I grow up in China, which is a collectivism society, people always consider themselves as being in a group. In organizations or companies, individual names are seldom mentioned unless you are the head of the group; individuals like to indicate themselves as team members. However, in American, an individualism society, voices of every single people have chances to be heard. In the President Obama’s immigration address in Las Vegas earlier last month, one Latino immigrant was mentioned and had been included in at least half of his speech. That would never happen in China. Any Chairman in China would never talk about an ordinary person in his speech.

    Back to our topic, as far as I am concern, I see more about a person’s helplessness and how one could easily make wrong choices if he or she is saddled with desire. In this play, the character Shelly brings us many laughs as well as significances of work ethic. He insists that what you are working on would finally pay you back as long as you believe and being persistent. I was touched by the character’s determination when he described how he worked on it to Richard. However, he was convinced by Moss, made the wrong choice, and eventually turned his life upside down. I could see his helplessness at the end, when he said “My daughter…”

    In terms of the comparisons of the two plays we have seen, I found the similarities between Glengarry and Race are as follows: First of all, the turning points of the plays are always presented after a minor detail that embedded in a fast-pace dialogue being found by one characters of each play; Besides, Mamet’s plays always contain more than just one significant main themes that allow audiences to apply and reflect on their own; Moreover, the characters are all “guilty” at some level, either in regards of law or morality. But none of them are pure evil. For instance, in Race, all four characters made lies before and they are all racism even they denied it; in Glengarry, all of the characters, well, except Baylen, the policeman who seldom involved in the main play, are all having complex personalities. And I think this is the best and the most attractive part of Mamet’s plays—the reality. Unlike fantasies or fairy tales, none of the people are like 100% nice or honest at all times. Mamet’s characters are all complex but are all well-defined in these two plays I have seen.

    I really enjoy these two plays that written by Mamet, its indications in life and reality. So far, for my little experience to Theater plays, I love these two the most.

    Thank you

    • Jingru, I really like your discussion of the play. Having come here from China you present a unique comparative perspective on American individualism. Both of Mamet’s plays we’ve seen serve as commentary on certain aspects of American culture—consumerism and capitalism as well as racism and the legal system. You mention the hyperrealism of Mamet’s work, which I think is a really critical part of his artistic style. He says things as they are: often ugly, and uncomfortable, but true. As you mention, the characters are complex, but in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (unlike in Boged) I did not feel like I could really sympathize with ANY of the characters. They may not have been necessarily evil, but they were certainly not good guys. They were motivated solely by self-interest, which is a dark reality of individualist societies. Thanks for your insight!

      • Hi Austin, Thanks a lot for your reply! I really appreciate your sharing of your thoughts. This is what I meant of different people would have different perspectives based on the same play. I really like how you use the languages to describe the feelings that I could hardly describe, and also bring it to another level! And thanks for providing Mamet’s words, which I wrote down but forgot to mentioned, but I have exactly the same thoughts on that!😀.

  9. I’d like to start by applauding how the cast for their performance, particularly after having talked to them post-play and really seeing how they’re nothing at all like the characters they are onstage. The most striking theme in Glengarry Glen Ross was power and the constant shift of power between the characters. It was extremely interesting to note how quickly dominance flip flopped between the characters and how each character responded immediately to address the new power structure. It’s almost like a jab at the cut throat nature of business and how every individual can power trip and display an immoral side. There was a great lack of regard for civility in the play and it really was, as was mentioned during the discussion, almost unrealistic that there weren’t any physical altercations between the characters. After the discussion, the excessive swearing in the play made a lot more sense – I feel like part of the message was to alienate and to break through socially acceptable barriers. One member of the cast mentioned how the play was shocking when it first came out in the 80s and how it doesn’t have the same shock value now, in a culture where that type of language is more prevalent. I disagree. I left the play feeling detachment, but I couldn’t figure out why. I liked the cast, I liked the little whodunit aspect, I liked the plot, and I was a huge fan of the revolving stage set. It took a little bit of reflection, but I realized afterwards that the language was very much outside of my comfort zone, particularly because it felt like it was excessive and uncalled for, as if they were continuously picking a fight. It was hard to connect with the play because it was set in such a realistic context but was so dissimilar to any other environment I’ve ever been in.

    • Lilly- I agree with your statements regarding the quick paced change in character throughout the play. It was so interesting to me to discover that the man who broke into the office and stole the leads was not Mr. George Aaronow, but rather it ended up being Mr. Shelly Levene; someone I did not anticipate or expect at all. I agree with your statement regarding the lack of physical violence as well. I also found it interesting that there was no physical violence throughout the production, as one student pointed out during the post-show discussion. However, the excessive profane language almost made up for it. In a way, I think that derogatory and offensive words can sting more than a physical punch. For example, at one point in the play Mr. Richard Roma calls Mr. John Williamson many harmful and offensive words, but the one that stuck out the most to me was when he was called a “child.” To me, this digs deeper than a physical jab would. Lastly, I want to address the role that money played throughout this play. It is relevant to note, yet unfortunate, that money serves as such a motivator for people both in the 1980s and today. I know money is important; we all need it to survive. But, it upsets me to know that people will turn their backs on what is right, moral, and ethical for their own selfish benefit.

  10. Seeing both Mamet’s Race and Glengarry Glen Ross in consecutive weeks, one thing became clear to me; I could definitely tell that the same playwright wrote both of them. Not only did they both contain a lot of profanity, which I personally loved, but they were also very masculine performances based on power struggles between characters. And while this type of story is by no means unique to Mamet, he is one of the better tellers of this story that I have seen. Race pulled this tension off wonderfully, but Glengarry Glen Ross performed it almost perfectly.

    The characters in GGGR were cast very well, especially Roma, Shelly, and Williamson who played off of each other well enough that the audience could feel the tension between them in the air. Roma especially exemplified the theme of the show; he was always on top and would be willing to do anything to stay there. Watching the performance, I felt Gordon Gekko or Patrick Bateman could play Roma as easily as he could. He was “the Man,” so to speak, while the rest of the cast is just trying to keep up. But one doesn’t need to be on top to achieve success; they just need to be in the top two. So instead of trying to be Roma, they just try to be better than those below them. This is where the masculinity comes into the play, they have to beat up on each other, and if they aren’t strong enough to do so, then it sucks to be them. That is what I took away from the performance; only the strong survive in business.

    Yesterday, though, I was reading one of my favorite entertainment websites and I found out that on next Thursday in L.A., director Jason Reitman is staging an all female reading of GGGR. When asked about why he chose to use this show to switch the actors to actresses, he said, “It’s the perfect candidate as there is no reason this script needs to be read by men outside of our own social stereotypes.” Reading this got me thinking, how would this play be different if it was written in the 2000s like Race instead of in the 1980s? Someone mentioned in the post show discussion how Williamson is usually cast as a white character but the performance we saw cast a black actor, but didn’t acknowledge it as significant or important, like in Our Town. In a future adaptation, could this part or another one be portrayed without harming the main theme of the play or even add to it? I think it could, and while in the 80’s business was a man’s world, the times have changed and I think the premise of this play has the potential to address this in the same way Mamet was able to address race. I don’t know how many people agree with me, but that is my opinion and I wish I could see Reitman’s reading because I think it would really help answer my question for me.

  11. I thought “Glengarry Glen Ross” performed at the Round House Theater was an amazing play. Of all the plays we have seen so far, I realized I enjoy those written by David Mamet the most. The reason why I especially like his plays is because I feel that Mamet is able to connect with me easily given the relative modern language. Not limited by the excessive use of profanity in “Glengarry Glen Ross”, Mamet really seems to use his knowledge of the modern day vernacular as well as his great sense of conversational rhythms to support what emotions to convey. This is especially important when exploring what I thought was a major theme of this play. What stuck out to me the most was the role of having an advantage. There was such a strong demonstration of the correlation between having an advantage and being strong. Throughout the play, I saw major power shifts in between who dominated the scene because of the characters’ changes in personalities. One perfect example was Shelly. We were introduced to the play with a desperate nervous Shelly who was begging for some leads from Williamson. However, after making a big sale and thus no longer afraid of not making money, Shelly became this confident and strong presence on stage. I thought this was especially pertinent being in Washington, D.C. Studying here has taught me a lot about how relationships and attitudes differ with having an advantage. In my lobbying class, my professor has talked about how successful lobbying is achieved through having an advantage. Though it is not as harmful or manipulative as it is in the real estate business, having a strong advantage in politics simply entails the creation of a strong want or need for the other person to act in your favor. One specific example he used was a story of how he arranged a mobile mammogram bus to drive around an elected representative’s district, which was experiencing rising cases of breast cancer. This act made the representative more inclined to work with him and establish a good relationship. Of course in the play, having an advantage didn’t necessarily affect one’s work directly, but it did affect their interactions with others and their behaviors. This only further increases my interest as I couldn’t help reflect on this idea of advantages as I apply for finance internships. Being a finance major, I have been somewhat exposed to the ways investment bankers and traders act, and it has turned me off a bit to my prospective career path. A lot of the ways Roma and Shelly acted with confidence, excessive cursing, and competitive cutthroat attitude is very similar to the words that describe the world of finance; it makes me really consider what I want to pursue as a prospective career. On the one hand I truly like what I would be doing, but, at the same time, I think I would get tired of the constant struggle for power between the people who are supposed to be my co-workers and friends. More importantly, I don’t know if I want to work in a place where having an advantage is the only source of power I can draw from.

  12. Mamet’s GlenGarry Glen Ross is one of the most amazing plays that I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. I was struck by the brutal honesty of the play, which although involved strong, vulgar language, communicated the reality of these four businessmen honestly and unapologetically. What made this play particularly more powerful for me as a contemporary viewer than Miller’s Death of a Salesman for example, was the fact that the characters were not as obviously delusional as Miller’s protagonist Willy Lowman, but yet by their own twisted logic, believed that the course of action they took was in their best interest.

    This realization particularly struck me with Roma’s dramatic monologue to Lingk. In this monologue Roma questioned the value of life and the value of belief, and laid the facts down, as he saw them, to Lingk. Although this monologue was supposed to be a sales pitch, there is a sense in which Roma believed what he was telling Lingk at the restaurant. This gospel according to Roma is key to understanding Mamet’s play in my opinion, and to understanding the logic by which the characters in the play operate. Roma explained to Lingk that ultimately the only thing we can rely on is our own human ingenuity, our tact, our reckless endurance, and on our ability to face each day in the future with the same unrelenting spirit. To act in our own best interest at all times.

    The plot of the play becomes complicated, from a moral perspective, when the characters become unsure of how to interpret what is in their best interest. All of the characters seem to know that maximizing their sales and profits is in their best interest, but the moral compass which should direct their actions along this path of profit maximization, becomes heavily tempered by the consumer logic of blind self-reliance. From a scientific perspective, this seems to be because of how competition operates in a market system. Shelley Levine’s product, which is his ability to sell his product, dwindled over time, and Roma with his youth and fresh skill, and Shelley’s other counterparts easily outdo him. Although Shelley ultimately decides his own fate, the reckless dogma of self-reliance will drive a person like Shelley, who is a business unto himself, out of business, which for a person realistically does not only mean out of a job, but means eroding their moral will, their self-confidence, and inviting desperation and hopelessness to instead employ them.

    What is even more disturbing, is the role which Mamet may be suggesting that the law plays in this process. In the play, the law represented by Baylen, merely helped to make this process easier by removing Shelley the perpetrator, and by helping to perpetuate the tragic cycle which Roma is bound to fall victim to by taking Shelley’s place.

  13. **I apologize – the second part of my comment got cut off.

    This is the second of Mamet’s play that I’ve seen and I can kind of see that Race is the more recent play. I’m unsure if Mamet’s style has changed over the 20 years between the two plays, but I preferred the elements of Race in comparison. This may be due to the closer setting of the play –a legal context- but I think it’s largely due to the language. Race made me uncomfortable in a way that helped me understand the tension of the subject of discussion without alienating me, causing me to pay much more attention and walk away mulling over what I had taken from the play. I felt like it was much more effective in Race when there were words thrown around, because it demonstrated some sort of increase in tension that built up in an effective manner. In Glengarry Glenn Ross, I feel like the constant abuse just pushed me away. I almost wonder if desensitization or detachment is something that Mamet was trying to create with this play – a juxtaposition of how we treat each other in an effort to climb to the top?

    • I agree with you on the duality of the language in the play. The profanity did have a desensitizing effect, both on the audience and among the characters as well. The swearing barely has any effect after the initial shock value, and clearly they do not have any issues with aiming it at their superiors, demonstrating their apathy towards anything that does not advance their own wealth. However, as both the program and some of the actors said in the post-show discussion, the profanity was elevated to a level of poetry in its use. Even more so, it almost became its own language between the agents, its own code. It adds to the very exclusive environment that permeates the entire business, from the already specific set of real estate vocabulary terms to how Roma created a screen with Shelly for Lingk (and presumably used for any other customer) as a persuasion method. So maybe while every example of profanity may not have a pointed purpose of producing an uncomfortable awareness like in “RACE,” it serves to form the general atmosphere of real estate as its own world.

  14. I found this play to be very entertaining. It is so interesting to me to discover the similarities between both of David Mamet’s plays I have seen so far in D.C. It is also interesting to discover the consistencies between Race and Glengarry Glen Ross as well. Both have very vulgar language, some of which is derogatory. It seems that is just Mamet’s way of conveying his point. Overall, I did not enjoy Glengarry Glen Ross as much as I enjoyed Race. I thought the story line of Race was easier to follow and more relevant in today’s world. Glengarry Glen Ross was also relevant today, but the play took place in the 1980s. I thought that the casting was well done in both of Mamet’s plays as well. Each character was able to deliver their lines and carry out their roles with such conviction and force; it was very believable.
    I enjoyed the post-show discussion of Glengarry Glen Ross the most out of all discussions thus far. The actors were very insightful and offered great responses to the questions they received. One of the actors repeatedly reversed the questions he received. He would ask the students what they thought about a particular issue and then elaborate from there.
    Another aspect of this play that I enjoyed was the scenery and setting. This was a very big change from the simplistic and modest scenery in Our Town. However, I though the advanced scenery in Glengarry Glen Ross added to the drama throughout the play.

  15. I think the nature of competition and competiveness of “Glengarry Glen Ross” certainly makes it one that parallels the dynamics of a society that defines success in some very poignant ways. Simply thinking about the premise of this play in it’s form of an all-male cast, in a professional setting and the dilemma of who stole leads in a burglary to get ahead, reminds me in many ways of the conversation we had last week surrounding race and privilege. In thinking about the way we measure success and who is likely to attain it privilege is certainly a player. I think that in the underlying theme of this play was certainly keeping one’s integrity in the midst of competition and really asking one’s self on their journey to the top to look around at who is and isn’t beside them and call into question if that is because they lied, cheated, and stole their way to the top.

    I believe the contest for a Cadillac represents much more than just a car but is a symbol for the competition for greater wealth and stability for which people seek. I think the products of competition that American society focuses on the most is “wealth, innovation, and a more dynamic society” none of which I seek to deny; however I do see where in the midst of competition creating winners it also creates losers. This was without a doubt the last thought in my mind after this play. Who are those losers? And what might it mean that there was an all male cast in this scenario of competition. Are women not even in the competition? I don’t doubt that the fact that this was originally a play that opened in the early 80s could be nodding to the gender roles of the past, but in its ever-relevant theme still echoes in today’s society where men still out earn women in the same jobs with the same and sometime less education. I assert that this play has everyone starting from the same place where as in society some people are born with into privilege and I think when reevaluating what competition and success should and should not look like in America, what the winners and losers look like will not be far behind.

    • I found the question “who are those losers?” very intriguing. The characters in “Glengarry Glen Ross” allowed the audience to sympathize with the losers who were unsuccessful and question the methods in which the “winners” used to succeed. Putting a face to some of those losers should make us think of those who do not have representation. There is nothing wrong with competition. I believe it fuels economies and challenges businesses to provide the best product. Competition, however, has a dark side. It can create pressures that lead to cheating and backstabbing in order to get ahead. The losers are not always the ones with bad business practices, but sometimes the ones who are playing by the books. If everyone played by the rules, competition would be fair. As life is unfair, and society often acts out of self interest, the business world is not exempt. Not everyone starts in the same place as far as money, influence, and education. The losers in some cases, are those who are denied those very things that make for success. I think an examination of disparities of these resources among losers should be considered.

  16. Integrity is what one does when no one is looking. My mother taught me this when I was younger. In addition to consciousness of society and humility, my family emphasized integrity as a characteristic of a grown person. Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross “ reminded me of the reason my parents would emphasize these lessons to me. Growing up in a society where success is measured by the amount of things one has or the social status one attains, it was important that I understood that I could not truly be successful if I gained wealth and status through unethical behavior. In the play, each man wants to be the most successful and the main symbol of that was the competition for the Cadillac. The salesmen were willing to lie, cheat, and literally steal from their competitors in order to gain the upper hand. It is interesting to think that people are willing to compromise their character for the pursuit of things. Then again, if no one is challenging your character and only values you based on those things, why would one care?
    Lately, I have been thinking about how my goals fit into the American narrative of success. You know, if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. That’s partially true. Sometimes we forget that not everyone has the same resources and have started at different levels in life. I appreciate rags to riches stories because they show how one can overcome many obstacles and have a different perspective on their success. People that I grew up with did not have many resources. I had parents who grew up poor and worked hard to provide me with what they did not. However, they emphasized that I would have to operate on my own merit and that I should never forget that people struggle to obtain the resources for success.
    That said, I figured out that my success has to measured by the success of those that I can work and advocate for in order for them to achieve their level of success. The play reminded me that I do not want to get caught up in material measures of success because it can consume you to the point that failure means depression and the pressure to compromise one’s integrity. Something that I won’t do.

    • Great post, Mark. I definitely agree with your definition of success. I don’t think material wealth and social status define one’s success, because what’s more important is one’s character. You can have your wealth taken away and you can have your power taken away, but no one can ever take away your integrity.

  17. In contrast to all the other plays we have seen this semester thus far, ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ was the first play in which there was nothing that I mentally noted could be improved while watching. To me, it seemed that the actors performed their roles admirably, the script itself was complex and rather genius, the set was absolutely amazing, and the overall effect was, in my opinion, relatively perfect. I applaud everyone who worked on this production; I think they did a fantastic job pulling off David Mamut’s fastidious, noteworthy script.
    I thought all of the actors were well cast, and the actor who played Shelly Levene was exceptional. It seemed to me at least that he didn’t miss a single stutter and his and tone and mannerisms never broke character. I also thought the actor playing George Aaronow, also, performed his part exceptionally well. After the play, the actors remarked that Mamut does not use flagrant swearing for the sake of swearing, but rather uses words as a sort of prose, a way of making a point about his characters and the circumstances in which they find themselves. I wholeheartedly agree with that idea. Furthermore, the fact that the actors realized that point made them infinitely more effective in of fulfilling Mamut’s objective.
    I find it very interesting that David Mamut decided to use an all-male cast. If the purpose of the play was to portray the ruthless nature of people in pursuit of money, or the relative value of justice and material gain, what does that say about men? Aren’t women also in pursuit of material gain, and do they not also use questionable methods to pursue those objectives? The actors mentioned their perception that the play used ‘masculine’ references and ‘muscular’ methods because perhaps they suit the themes better. However, I’m not sure. Maybe they illustrate the emotional nature of the issues and the carelessness of the crime better, but I question whether that could not also be portrayed by women, and whether other methods might have been just as effective. Cold calculation, for example, was not a factor at all. I wonder if this reflects David Mamut’s personal preferences, or if there is some sort of related meaning that I have missed that might justify these methods.

    • Karinne, I am glad you commented on the fact that this was an all-male cast. I was also surprised by that! At first I was taken back but the more I thought about it, I couldn’t picture a woman being a cut throat salesman using that corse language. Is that sexist? Hahaha. At any rate, I also really enjoyed the discussion with the actors after. It was insightful to hear them speak about the masculinity of the play and how David Mamet wrote it to be such a way. When I think of a cut-throat salesman, I always think of the dad in Matilda. He was a cardealer and he would always lie to his customers to sell his cars. I kept thinking about him when I watched this play! Afterwards I thought more about the times when this play was written…. It isn’t new and back when it was written it was probably more common to have all men in a workplace than it is now. Maybe that is an explanation? Or maybe it was just because Mamet wanted to really emphasize the masculinity. You’ve obviously raised a good point! I’d love to hear an explanation from Mamet.

  18. After seeing Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, I had two thoughts running through my mind: (1) I really want to be a salesman and (2) I really don’t want to be a salesman. Part of my was in love with the fast-paced, put it all on the line lifestyle, and part of me probably wouldn’t be able to handle the kill or be killed mentality involved with sales. Either way, I think Mamet nailed the vocation. It was really spot-on, and Mamet’s writing made me feel as though I was truly watching four salesmen’s lives played out in front of us.

    I had seen the film only two months before, so all I could think of going into the play was that I was barely going to be able to keep my eyes open, seeing that I already knew exactly what was going to happen. I was wrong, though. The film took major liberties with the script, and entirely changed around the order of the events (the heist occurred at the end of the film, and Pacino took up a bulk of the screen time with his brilliant sales pitch to Lingk). Additionally, the acting was fantastic and heartfelt, and the set was amazing to look at, so overall I was enthralled the whole time.

    My favorite line occurred in Roma’s sale monologue, when he mentioned the best sex he’d ever had and what he remembered of it. I’m not sure if this is too inappropriate for our theater blog, but seeing as we did see the play as part of our class, and seeing as I feel it would be infringing on my own artistic integrity not to bring it up, I will anyways. All I will say is that that line really resonated with me, and I thought it was just a brilliant way of describing sex – a subject we often have such a hard time broaching, yet a subject of which we are all constantly thinking.

    Roma used that line in the movie and in the play, and I remember while watching the film I was amazed that I had never heard anyone make that observation before. Mamet has a way of bringing your attention to simple, everyday occurrences (much in like Seinfeld in a way) that makes you feel stupid for never making the observation yourself.

    I’m not sure if we see another Mamet production, and I don’t have the syllabus in front of me, but in my brief exposure to the theater, he is already becoming one of my favorite playwrights.

    • Hey Sam,

      I really appreciated your honest comment. I tend to feel the same way about Mamet, I appreciate those playwrights who state the obvious, that no one else had bothered to address. It kind of unites us in a way because its humorous, a part of our collective subconscious, and also involves topics that we can all relate to. I think plays that provide lines that resonate with audience members are particularly powerful plays, and usually the goal of a playwright is to capture your attention and to get you thinking, and Mamet accomplishes both of these in this play. I think that people appreciated the candid presentation of the lives of salesmen, who are often poster boys of American capitalism for the middle class. I think that it would be very interesting to see how different people from different age groups and classes respond to the themes in the play. From what I can tell by watching the play at Round House Bethesda, a wide variety of audience members appreciated the play pretty much equally, and old as well as young were laughing and applauding at the same scenes. If anything the older crowd more readily displayed their appreciation of some of the sex jokes, more than the younger people present in the audience.

  19. After watching David Mamet’s plays of “Race” and “Glengarry Glen Ross”, I must say that there were moments when I felt uncomfortable with the use of profanity. It must be hard work for the acting crew to express and tolerate the use of such extreme language during the course of the two plays.

    In the particular play of Glengarry Glen Ross, the acting crew consisted all male. I felt that David Mamet wanted to use this play to measure the success of a man during the 1980’s. Through a glimpse into a group of men working in a small real estate office, I was able to witness the intensity of the working environment. Each one of the men seemed to hold the mentality of making something out of nothing, desperate to try to stand out from the crowd and rise from the masses. And in the center of this contest, money seemed to be the driving force. While wealth was attractive to many, it made me wonder if that was the determinant of success. Was a man defined by someone who would do absolutely anything, including lying, cheating, or stealing, in order to get ahead? Or was it someone who possessed qualities of honesty and bravery?

    I appreciate the notion of these men working hard to achieve their goals, but let us remind ourselves that we should not be blinded by money.

  20. As soon as we walked into the theater and I saw the set, I was excited for the play to begin. I knew the play Glengarry was popular because I had heard of it before but I knew absolutely nothing about it–meaning that I had zero expectations about the play going into it. As we sat in our seats and waited for the show to start, my mind was about a million other places. My boyfriend was coming to visit the next morning and I was distracted thinking about what we should do all weekend (so distracted that I forgot to do my blog post… OOPS!!). Once I turned off my phone and cleared my mind, I looked at the set more. Based on the Asian style restaurant I very seriously thought this was going to be a play about something asian related? When the fight music came on I thought I was correct but as the actors came on stage and the play began I realized I was completely wrong. The first act HAPPENED to be set in a Chinese restaurant but that was actually completely unrelated to the play. Again, pardon me for knowing nothing about the play.

    As soon as Shelly and John began conversing, it was so easy to immediately connect this play to Race, although the content was very different. The lines came at the audience very quickly and with much intensity (and swearing) just like they did in David Mamet’s Race. Rick Foucheux was absolutely terrific. He had me SOLD as the desperate salesman trying to make ends meet. I honestly wanted to yell at John and say, “just give him the damn leads!!!!”.

    Then we went on to see the interaction between Moss and George, which was just hilarious. Moss was just the right amount of comical. And George, boy did he have a tough role to play. I think it’s probably a lot easier to convey your character’s thoughts by speaking lines than it is to convey your character’s thoughts by saying nothing at all. Every time George wanted to speak Moss came right at him again! Despite that, I knew exactly what George was feeling, and for that, bravo!

    And as the final part of the first act, we saw the interaction between Roma and James. Roma was far and above my favorite actor in the play. Roma was so convincing when talking to James, and to me was the stereotypical star salesman. For all you out there who have seen Stepbrothers (the movie with WIll Ferrel and John C Reilly), wasn’t Roma JUST LIKE Derek???? He was the PERFECT dick salesman who was a total hotshot and sealed all the deals. From the hair to the attitude, Alexander Strain simply nailed it.

    Going into the second act, I was grateful that all of the characters had very different looks and stories, because it made remembering them all much easier when their lives intertwined. I have never been in a salesmen’s office, but I imagine this is exactly how it would be. There would be a big competition between all the men, and the new hotshots would be the top dogs with the older men struggling to stay afloat. Although the language was rather foul, it fit the men and the setting perfectly.

    Other than the acting, there were two other things I was really impressed by:
    1. The set change!!!!!! I so much prefer a vivid and detailed set like the one in Glengarry to the imaginary set of Our Town. And the spinning rotation change between acts could not have been any neater.
    2. The surprise ending! David Mamet really wrote the lines terrifically. I did not expect Shelly to be the man who commit the robbery.

    Overall, seriously wonderful. One of my favorite productions yet!

  21. I could not think of a better way to have spent my Valentine’s Day than going to the Round House Theater in Bethesda to see GlenGarry Glen Ross. I knew I was going to enjoy the show as early as the very first scene. The stage setting was magnificent and the music was masculine and powerful, yet simple enough for me to focus on what the characters were saying without being distracted by what was happening around them.

    I think the first thing that stuck out to me was the frequent use of vulgarity and offensive language. The characters spoke freely and casually among each other and four-letter words rolled off their tongues with ease. It was a bit shocking at first, but then I remembered how I had the same feeling when viewing Race the previous week. I recalled that Mamet was common factor–he wrote both plays, and this was his writing style. When I came to terms with Mamet’s writing style, I began noticing how everything in the set, and even the way the characters addressed one another, tied into the idea of superiority and masculinity. Another theme that jumped out at me was the importance of status–these men were die-hard competitors, who only cared about being on top and winning.

    It took me awhile to figure out what the men were selling and what the competition was, but I learned early on in the show that what they were actually selling wasn’t, in fact, all too important. The constant power struggle and the importance of money was the driving theme of the play. I was captivated by how many shifts there were in power and how quickly Mamet changed focus between characters. It was a dramatic thriller, and I never saw the ending coming.

    I liked Shelley Levene from the first moment he cam on stage. He was an old-timer and an underdog. He was behind in sales and he was not experiencing the best economic times. I was rooting for him to succeed. I’m not sure if this was Mamet’s intention, but it sure did blind me from the fact that Shelley could ever be behind the break-in and stealing of the firm’s leads. But even after the play ended, and I discussed this idea with fellow classmates, no one saw the ending coming and none of us ever expected Shelley. I re-played the show in my mind trying to figure out where I could have missed the point where Shelley decided to break into the office and sell the leads to the competitors…but I couldn’t find it, and I think that was Mamet’s intention.

    I think he wanted to keep us guessing and I think he wanted us to be thrown off by the ending. I also like how John had a moment of redemption at the end of the play. He was the one who got chewed out by Shelley and Ricky after causing Ricky to lose a sale, but he was also the one who caught Shelley in a lie. He called Shelley out and was able to get him to confess to the crime, returning his power over Shelley.

    Overall, GlenGarry Glen Ross is my favorite play we have seen in class so far. The set was amazing and the cast was wonderful. My attention was held the entire show and I was constantly on the edge of my seat. When it was finally over, I found myself wishing it would keep going.

  22. I had a very different experience as an audience member watching “Glengarry Glen Ross” than I did watching “Race”. Sitting in the audience of “Race,” and having the special opportunity to talk to the actors following the production, was a very intimate experience for me. It involved a lot of self-interrogation and thick contemplation of society’s most frustrating fragments. However, when I saw “Glengarry Glen Ross” at the Round House Theater, I did not feel the same sense of heavy entrenchment that overcame me when I saw Mamet’s other production just a week earlier. It had little (or nothing) to do with the production value, the acting, or the directing – it was mostly a question of subject matter. I never realized how quickly turned off I am by discussions of the politics of businesses – real estate business no less. Although themes of pressure, ambition, and fear were at the forefront of both productions, the construct of men talking business in crassly masculine ways was not only unappealing to me, but disengaging. I don’t know if I felt left out of the play’s message because I felt so estranged from the lifestyles of its characters, or if the lack of an apparent socially-relevant discourse (that was the lifeblood of “Race”) made it harder for me to connect.

    That being said, I was absolutely blown away by the acting. Shelly’s desperation and Moss’ emptiness were exceptionally striking to me. I thought the men had incredibly chemistry and played their roles with honesty, courage, and grace. These beliefs were confirmed when we had the opportunity of speaking with them post-production.

    The most fascinating part to me of the post-production discussion was when the actors talked about their interaction with the vulgarity that runs rampant in this script. It’s not as if “Glengarry Glen Ross” was any more vulgar than “Race”. But I think the vulgarity took on an especially hardened, crass tone by the all-male cast, as it was incubated in an environment of testosterone and competition. While “Race” to me was about the relationships (the glances, the pauses, the shared moments, the tension), “Glengarry Glen Ross” was about the language. I am very thankful to have seen two Mamet shows that I felt differently about, because it allowed me the opportunity to compare my viewing experiences based on my interest in plot (in the case of “Race”) vs. my focused fascination with the language (in the case of “Glengarry Glen Ross”). “Glengarry Glen Ross” allowed me to home in on Mamet’s skill as a playwright; I was blown away as these actors’ language took the shape of deceit, aggression, persuasion, sacrifice, and confession.

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