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Synapse Theatre Company Glengarry Glen Ross

By • Sep 22nd, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Glengarry Glen Ross, by David Mamet
Synapse Theatre Company
Writer’s Center, Bethesda, MD
Through September 26
2:15; one intermission
$20/$15 Seniors and students
Reviewed September 17, 2010

Glengarry Glen Ross is the story of several desperate real estate agents who are trying to keep their jobs through a sales contest. They scheme and plot against each other, their boss and their clients as they sell their properties.

Glengarry Glen Ross contains a lot of adult language, and adult situations. Actors must love juicy roles such as these slimy, greedy, back-stabbing salesmen. Unfortunately, many of the performances were flat. There wasn’t much depth to anyone. The manager of the office, John Williamson (Jeff Mocho) was given the job to herd and manhandle the agents yet came across as weak and was pushed around too easily by the agents, especially by Ricky Roma (Joe Kelly). Police detective Baylen (Ivan Zizek) was also very wishy-washy, the antithesis of a street hardened Chicago police detective. I would have liked to see the detective try to stare the agents down.

James Raby as agent Shelly Leven and Joe Kelly as Ricky Roma showed a wide range of emotions. Kelly shifted easily from aggressive, slimy salesman to “concerned” friend while manipulating both his clients (Wayne Nicolosi was effective as pathetic client James Lingk) and his coworkers. Raby was effective late in the show as we learned more about his actions. Ted Schneider as Dave Moss was pushy, but apparently a good guy as he showed his concern for George Aarnow (Larry Levinson). But his twisting of his relationship with George actually made George more sympathetic, which Levinson handled with confidence.

Overall, Director Lou Zammichieli’s pacing of the show could have been quicker. The emotions that the agents were running through called for high energy, and at times the pauses between the delivery of lines was distracting. Zammichieli’s set was basic, with only two desks and a chalkboard the main set pieces. The preshow music was annoyingly loud, enough so that it was relief when the show finally started. Unfortunately, the actors came across as hard to hear until my ears could adjust to the more reasonable volume of sound in the room. The lights for most of Act I, the Chinese restaurant, were a dim red, which made it hard to see the actors talking at their table.

I spoke with producer Kathe Park after the performance. She did share that they did have trouble bringing everything together during their final days of rehearsal. This is Synapse’s second production. It will be interesting to watch them as they continue to learn and grow. Their next production will be The Miracle Worker, and they are planning to collaborate with an English playwright next season on new works.

Cast

  • Shelly Levene: James Raby
  • Ricky Roma: Joe Kelly
  • Dave Moss: Ted Schneider
  • George Aaronow: Larry Levinson
  • John Williamson: Jeff Mocho
  • James Lingk: Wayne Nicolosi
  • Rick Baylen: Ivan Zizek
  • Frank Blake: Lou Zammichieli

Crew

  • Director: Lou Zammichieli
  • Assistant Director: Peter Chewning
  • Producer: Kathe Park
  • Lighting Design: Jim Robertson
  • Stage Manager: Michelle Brooks
  • Sound Design: Lou Zammichieli
  • Set Design: Lou Zammichieli
  • Light Board Operator: Michelle Brooks
  • Costumes: Kathe Park
  • Publicity: Duane Hyland, Kathe Park
  • Program: Barbara Wassell
  • Website: Scott Bloom
  • Artwork: Wayne Nicolosi

Disclaimer: Synapse Theatre Company provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review, and is running paid advertising on ShowBizRadio.net.

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has performed in local productions, but prefers to be behind the scenes. Mike earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Online News Association.

11 Responses »

  1. I am a proud cast member of Synapse Theatre Company’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross. One of my rules to live by is subjectivity — everyone’s opinion should be treated with respect and fairness. With that in mind, I have never felt compelled to respond to a negative review of any show in which I’ve been cast — until now.

    First, your review should never have been published. It’s interesting that you chose to include your conversation with the show’s producer, but you neglected to mention that you couldn’t be impartial in a Glengarry review because you hated the characters. I’ll take your feelings about the characters as a complement to the entire cast — they aren’t SUPPOSED to be likeable. Simply put, your distate for the characters clouded your judgement about the specifics of this production.

    Further, your writing on your conversation with Kathe made it sound like she was apologizing for the production. Believe me, having lived with this production since July, and having acted for 25 years, I can say unequivocally that this production has NOTHING for which to apologize.

    Second, I suggest you take up the character’s “lack of depth” with the committee that awarded David Mamet and Glengarry the Pulitzer Prize in the 80s, and if you’re implying that the actors in this cast didn’t have the ability to find such depth, I would submit that the many awards these actors have received speak for themselves.

    Third, your comment about the performances of Jeff Mocho and Ivan Zizek indicates your lack of understanding about one of play’s key points … as the office’s top producer, Roma carries more clout than both Williamson the office manager and Baylen the cop … this play is all about money and greed — closing — and neither character can compete with Roma on that score. Further, I’m at a loss for words if you found Mocho’s handling of Shelly in Act II passive and weak.

    Finally, in the interest of balance and fairness, I feel compelled to publish an e-mail by a woman who also saw the show this weekend. I have come to learn that she is a former equity actor in San Francisco and has been in and around theatre her entire life.

    Ok, so all the way home last night we talked about what a great show we saw. I
    fell asleep thinking about how good it was, and this morning we’re talking about
    how good it was. Really. Professional caliber. You know, I’d rather see a
    mediocre movie than a mediocre play, just ’cause you can eat and make comments
    without too many problems. But I think a great play trumps a great movie any
    day, and that’s what we saw last night. It was exciting to watch, there was
    real listening, real connecting.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment. In the interest of fairness, I am requesting that this e-mail be published in its entirety.

    Most Sincerely,

    LARRY LEVINSON

  2. I BELIEVE IF THE REVIEWER HAD HAD MORE EXPOSURE TO DAVID MAMET’S WRITINGS HE WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD THE CHARACTERS BETTER.NONE OF THESE CHARACTERS HAVE ANY PERSONAL REDEMPTION. I THINK THE PRODUCTION IS A SOLID SHOW AND CARRIED OUT MAMET’S THEME AS SCRIPTED. I WOULD SUGGGEST THAT THE AUDIENCE JUDGE FOR THEMSELVES THIS WEEKEND. DAVE MOSS IS NOT A DECENT GUY. HE IS A RACEIST,A BLACKMAILER AND AN AWFUL GUY, NOT A NICE GUY AS YOU DESCRIBED HIM. I FEEL THAT YOU REALLY WERE HAVING PROBLEMS BEING IMPARTIAL WITH THE PLAY AS WE HAD TALKED ABOUT.BLAKE IS BROUGHT DOWN TO THE OFFICE BECAUSE WILLIAMSON ISHE IS NOT AN ALPHA MALE AND CANNOT CONTROL HIS SALESMEN, ESPECIALLY ROMA. LEVENE HIMSELF SAYS IT BEST THAT WILLIAMSON IS JUST A SECRETARY. THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON YOU AND PLEASE DON’T PEPERCIEVE IT AS ONE.I AM THE PRODUCER OF THE PLAY.THANK YOU FOR COMING TO THE PRODUCTION EVEN THOUGH WE DISAGREE .

  3. LINE SHOULD READ BECAUSE WILLIANSON IS NOT AN ALPHA MALE.

  4. Wow just wow. It always amazes me when actors , directors amd others get so riled up about a review that they have to comment on it.

    As someone who has done this show I may have to check this out to see who is right.

    I will say that one thing caught my eye in the review:

    “the pauses between the delivery of lines was distracting.”

    There shouldnt be a pause anywhere in this show.

  5. When did Mamet add the character Blake from the movie to the play?

  6. You saw the show this weekend?

  7. Bill …

    Rather than submit a public review, just e-mail me … we can bounce this topic back and forth.

    semicolonpowell@aol.com

  8. THE SHOW IS OVER AND WAS WELL ATTENDED . IT RECEIVED A LOT OF PRAISE.THE ACTORS WERE PROFFESIONAL LEVEL. THEY ALL UNDERSTOOD MAMET’S STYLE. I STAND BEHIND THIS PRODUCTION 100%. I USUALLY DO NOT COMMENT ON REVIEWS EITHER. HOWEVER , WHEN A REVIEWER SAYS HE CANNOT BE IMPARTIAL BECAUSE OF HIS DISTAIN FOR THE CHARACTERS THEN THE REVIEW SHOULD NOT BE POSTED.IF THERE WERE NOT TO BE ANY PAUSES IN THE DIALOGUE THEN THE ACTORS WOULD REALLY NOT BE LISTENING OR REALLY CONNECTING TO EACH OTHER, WOULD THEY?

  9. “IF THERE WERE NOT TO BE ANY PAUSES IN THE DIALOGUE THEN THE ACTORS WOULD REALLY NOT BE LISTENING OR REALLY CONNECTING TO EACH OTHER, WOULD THEY?”

    If there is a pause that means no one is speaking. so what are they listening to?

    Thats not called listening its called “acting before the line” when the actor should be acting on line. Its a bad habit that lots of actors and shows have.

    Also it is Mamets intent that there be no pauses.

    I was wondering how the character of Blake got into your production? I can find no record of Mamet adding the film character to the play.

  10. BILL,
    IF YOU WANT TO DISCUSS THE SHOW AND THE PLAYWRIGHT PLEASE TAKE LARRY LEVINSONS OFFER AND E-MAIL HIM PERSONALLY. THE PRODUCTION IS OVER AND SO IS ANY PUBLIC COMMENTARY.

  11. No problem Kathe. But as he was just acting in the show im sure that any decision on what script to use or what modificatiosn to to make wasnt his so I wont bother him.

    Im interested in seeing the script with Blake added and have written Samuel French to inquire of its availbility.