Blood in the water in MRT’s ‘Glengarry’
LOWELL — There will be blood shed — maybe not literally but figuratively — when jobs and a Cadillac are the prizes in a cruel competition among 1984 Chicago real estate salesmen in David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Glengarry Glen Ross,” now through May 19 at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre.
Yes, there are prizes to be had in the sales race, but the losers will get the unkindest cut of all — the bottom two salesman will be let go.
So there is blood in the water as the competition nears its end. Shelley Levene (Will LeBow) — a salesman once so efficient and deadly he was nicknamed “The Machine” — is not even “on the board” in the race — he hasn’t closed a deal — and is now a desperate man willing to do anything to get his hands on the “hot leads,” the names and addresses of likely customers for the low-end real estate the company is selling.
He wheedles and cajoles Williamson (David Adkins), the sales manager trusted to distribute the leads to those he thinks deserves them.
But Shelley is in a self-admitted “cold streak,” with clients pulling out of deals and other assorted bad luck, hasn’t closed a deal in a while, and he’s forced to beg and plead with Williamson, who cooly rebuffs Levene at first and then arranges a deal that will line his own pockets at Levene’s expense.
But Levene’s not the only one who wants those leads, and is willing to do almost anything to get them. Moss (Charlie Kevin) and Aaronow (Jim Ortlieb), two other salesman who are being left in the dust in the sales race by the hot shot Roma (Todd Licea), are unhappy and with their situation in life, and are scheming to feather or even make a deal with the competition. Aaronow in particular is a lost soul.
Mamet’s pointed, profane dialogue makes his characters so real they seem to jump off the stage at you. As Mamet has noted and exploited, people — especially when they get excited — tend to speak in short bursts and sentence fragments instead of complete sentences, interrupting each other, arguing, never quite completing a thought.
While LeBow et al are just fine, the performance of the evening is Todd Licca’s as Roma, a handsome salesman with true grace and cunning, able to turn a simple “chance” encounter at a Chinese restaurant into a sales call, and then springing the trap like a human Venus Fly Trap.
In the second act, you can’t take your eyes off Licea as Roma tries to reel back in a client named Jim Lingk (Jeremiah Wiggins) as he attempts to desperately wriggle off the hook.
Levene helps out in playing a happy client but Williamson’s entrance and inopportune slip of the tongue helps Lingk slip away.
“You didn’t know the shot!” Levene screams at Williamson.
The second act appears to be a chance for redemption for Levene — “I got my balls back,” he exults at one point — but Joel Colodner as a dogged police detective will enter the scene to investigate the break-in that was hinted at in the first act. It will all play out, and there will be no happy ending — not even for the so-called “winners” such as Roma.
Bill Clarke’s set includes a first-act Chinese restaurant and a chaotic , burglarized office in the second act — an office so chaotic that it reminded me greatly of a newspaper office that I worked in for almost 30 years.
Director Charles Towers expertly orchestrates his talented ensemble, and the result is a most satisfying coda to MRT’s 2013-14 season.
The Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s production of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Directed by Charles Towers At the Nancy Donahue Theatre through May 19. http://www.mrt.org