Elden Street Players Glengarry Glen RossBy Genie Baskir • Mar 27th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Elden Street Players
Industrial Strength Theater, Herndon, VA
Through April 7th
$20/$13.50 from Goldstar
1:45 with one intermission
Reviewed March 26th, 2012
Everything old is new again. As contemporary financial and real estate institutions are scandalizing the public with their unflattering nick names, i.e. “muppets”, for the clients who underwrite their large bonuses, the Elden Street Players present David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, a 1980’s illustration of a shady real estate boiler room operation where itinerant salesmen consider their customers…or leads….in the most reprehensible and contemptible terms. “Muppets” is actually a kindness and the audience becomes the mark for Director Rosemary Hartman’s intimate study of Mamet’s outlook on incentive and motivation.
Glengarry Glen Ross is the story of the emotional and psychological breakdown of Shelly Levene aka Shelly “The Machine” Levene, a real estate salesman who falls behind in the competition to commit petit fraud by selling unimproved land to clueless customers who believe they are buying retirement in up market new communities called Rio Rancho, Glen Ross Estates and the pinnacle…Glengarry Glen Ross. Shelly is ably portrayed by Michael Kharfen in a state so agitated that your reviewer feared he would suffer an actual stroke by the end. Kharfen opens in a state of agitation that alternately advances and retreats as his desperate plan to come back from sales commission purgatory fails. Kharfen demonstrated his character’s desperation so ably that sweat and spittle were flying and the bleak conclusion is left in one’s memory; especially as played against Ian Brown as John Williamson spending two hours in a slow burn. That’s all I’ll tell you. This character, the complete opposite of Brown’s amorous and loud buffoon, Hubert Finidori, in ESP’s Life x3, shows Brown’s ability to inhabit disparate types of men.
The other cast members ably supported Mamet’s commentary on amorality and acquitted themselves commendably. Other cultures than ours consider the showing of the bottom of one’s feet to be an insult. Chuck Dluhy, as the bombastic hustler Richard Roma, makes himself plain in his shiny suit. He calls us all a contemptible name when he reclines in his chair and puts his feet up showing us the bottom of his pristine stitched leather soled shoes. That tells all we need to know about him; and if that was Director Rosemary Hartman’s idea, it was well thought out. If it was Dluhy’s, Hartman cast well. In a most delicious turn of events, Roma is unraveled by the unseen, unheard wife of his Cadillac prize finish line latest mark, played by Richard Durkin. By the end, though, Roma is percolating again with a new and reviling plan to win that Caddy.
Ted Culler as the guiltily self-conscious, Yiddish spluttering George Arronow makes plain his offense at being considered a suspect in a robbery that he sort of knew about while he struggles to make a living in shady commission sales. Dave Moss, a sleazy provocateur, played by Kevin Dykstra lures us all into the plan that sets up this story. All of these salesmen venting their frustrations and indulging their respective anger while a police detective, Michael Clendenin, tries to conduct his investigation introduce us to a shady world of bread winning that no one envies and no one wants to do. The costuming supports the characters and their reviled states while seeming at first glance to be just an exercise in dressing a bunch of men. The nuances of state of wear or shininess convey as much as the dialog.
The set was another one of Elden Street’s marvels and I’ll stop at that. Set Designer Skip Gresko used the intimacy of the Industrial Strength Theatre to its ultimate creative advantage and Evan Hoffman’s and Theresa Nichols’ faultless attention to detail left your reviewer desiring Chinese food. This show should be seen. Director Rosemary Hartman fully conveyed the emptiness of used up lives which never ever had bright futures and that includes the so called muppets who do buy into Rio Rancho. Your reviewer confesses to loving Mamet’s scenery chewing situations and his commentaries on our collective fatal flaws. This Mamet production didn’t disappoint. Plus ca change, c’est la meme chose.
Photos by Traci J. Brooks
- Levene: Michael Kharfen
- Roma: Chuck Dluhy
- Moss: Kevin Dykstra
- Aaronow: Ted Culler
- Williamson: Ian Brown
- Lingk: Richard Durkin
- Baylen: Michael Clendenin
- Producer: Evan Hoffmann
- Director: Rosemary Hartman
- Stage Manager: Mary Ann Hall
- Assisted by: Meg Miller
- Set Design: Skip Gresko
- Master Carpenter: Skip Gresko
- Assisted by: Jaclyn Young, Jeff Boatright, Evan Hoffmann, Marty Sullivan, Michael Schlabach, Richard Durkin
- Set Painting: Kate and Karl Meier
- Costume Design: Judy Whelihan
- Light Design: Chris Hardy
- Board Operator: Joyce Gillogly
- Master Electrician: Chris Hardy
- Set Decoration/Set Dressing: Evan Hoffmann and Theresa Nichols
- Properties: Evan Hoffmann and Theresa Nichols
- Sound Design: Ben Allen
- Board Operator: Jon Roberts
- Makeup Design: The Cast
- Hair Design: The Cast
- House Management: Dave Sinclair
- Box Office Management: Rich Klare and Sandy Sullivan
- Publicity: ESP Publicity Committee
- Playbill: Virginia Kohles
- Graphic Design: Virginia Kohles
- Production & Cover Photography: Jaclyn Young
- Publicity Photography: Traci J. Brooks Photography
Disclaimer: Elden Street Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7816.
Genie Baskir is a theatrical producer. She worked in radio production and direction for many years and gravitated to theatre when family members became involved with the stage.