Greed, corruption, liars and thieves. No, this is not a story about the government or some mega-corporation--this is the Bergen County Players' production of "Glengarry Glen Ross."
"Glengarry Glen Ross" is the tale of four Realtors and their office manager, and the conniving, underhanded and downright illegal maneuvers they employ against one another to make it to the top. The name comes from the two real-estate properties they are peddling, the Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms, both of which are truly undesirable.
The play opens with office manager John Williamson (Jon Cole) having aging, once-successful but down-on-his-luck Realtor Shelley “The Machine” Levene (Frank Osmers) demanding better leads so he might get “on the board” in the competition being held by the unseen but often referred to partners, Murray and Mitch. Levene considers Williamson beneath him, but without him he cannot get the sales leads. Begging and bribery ensues.
The next scene features George Aaronow (Rich Ardito) and Dave Moss (Steven Reyngoudt) decrying the competition, Williamson, and their difficult lives. But Moss has a plan: he wants to steal the leads. He even has a buyer. All he needs is a patsy to do it--and he looks to George to be that patsy. As the scene closes, it seems likely that he has succeeded in persuading the weaker man to act.
Finally we meet the big gun of the agency: slick, fast-talking Ricky Roma (Larry Kadish). He’s enjoying his meal, but enjoys more talking about life’s adventures with the man in the booth beside him, James Lingk (Tom Lambrix). In time, he makes his way over to Lingk’s booth, then begins his pitch.
Act II begins in the real-estate office--after it has been broken into. Detective Baylen (Jim Lugo) is on the scene, taking the Realtors into Williamson’s office and interrogating them one by one.
The characters are all irredeemable, scheming, self-serving jerks, but they still draw your attention. Cole’s Williamson comes across as the perfect middle manager, taking the abuse of his staff but knowing that, in the end, the power is all his.
Osmers plays Levene with a perfect mix of self-loathing, the older, unbeatable pro, and desperation.
Reyngoudt’s Moss is the ultimate everyman, able to talk you into doing his dirty work while still coming across as your good buddy who wants nothing but the best for you.
Kadish plays Roma with a great flair for the super-slick, cannot-lose superman who could sell a drowning man a glass of water. He perfectly plays off Lambrix’s quiet, unassuming Lingk.
Lugo’s no-nonsense portrayal of the detective adds an element of chaos to the ensemble.
And Ardito’s George comes across as nervous, uncertain, easy to prey off. And his delivery of the final line in the show--“I hate this job”--comes across with that unique combination of anger, loathing, whiny-ness and despair.
This is the first BC Players production of a David Mamet play, and they have done an absolutely magnificent job with it. For those unfamiliar with Mamet’s style, his dialogue is unique. Stutters, multiple pauses and characters talking over one another are not left to the actors to improvise but are built right in. Nailing the timing of his dialogue is probably the most complicated aspect of memorizing it. And the cast of "Glengarry Glen Ross" did it seemingly effortlessly.
After the Friday production, the cast and crew held a "talkback" with the audience. Taking questions, one thing they mentioned was that unlike most productions, they could not just learn their lines, they had to learn those of the other guy in the scene with them.
When asked if they had watched the Oscar-nominated film (which featured some of the biggest names in Hollywood), the actors agreed that even if they had, they worked hard not to imitate those performances.
Director Alyson Cohn chose the play in part because while it was written some 29 years ago, “it remains topical today.” Coincidentally, the March 25 opening was precisely 27 years to the day after the original Broadway production’s opening.
"Glengarry Glen Ross" is being performed at the Little Firehouse Theatre Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 16. Please note that this play involves adult themes and strong language (the movie was rated R). If that is not something that bothers you, do not miss this performance!