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Wednesday, 08 June 2011 16:00

New Monitor Review of "Glengarry Glen Ross" 2011 Featured

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NEW ON STAGE - June 9, 2011

By  Robert Delaney

Theatre Reviewer

 

Mamet's sales office from hell at OU

 

Shifty land sales agents struggle to keep their jobs in David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," the inaugural production of the Epicenter Theatre Group at the Varner Hall Studio Theatre on the Oakland University campus.

A group of Chicago salesmen of varying ages and confidence levels are under pressure to perform in a sales contest that requires them to get ordinary folks to buy land sight unseen in places like Florida or Arizona. Director Steven O'Brien and a cast made up largely of OU alumni give us a mostly satisfying retelling of Mamet's play about a sales office from hell. Michael Gillespie gives us a very believable Shelley "The Machine" Levene, the one-time top salesman now facing unemployment and financial disaster if his luck doesn't turn by the next day.
 

Even though one might like to see Gillespie introduce a little more shading and variation into his portrayal, it is refreshing to see an older character played by an older actor. It is understandable that university theatre productions must cast young performers in older parts, but too often our nascent professional companies also lack intergenerational participation. Marco Zaccagnini carries off the role of the cocky top salesman Richard Roma quite well, fully convincing us of his character's ability to sell through the force of his personality. And Paul Jagoda likewise gives a very strong performance as Roma's mark, the hen-pecked prospect, James Lingk. Matthew Forbes also shines as the office manager, the owners' agent in keeping the sales force hungry and on their toes, as does Stefan Mantyk as George Aaronow, the least confident and competent of the salesmen.

 

Marius Iliescu's otherwise decent performance as Moss, who is as cynical a salesman as Roma, but not nearly as effective, is marred somewhat by his rather incongruous pony tail. I can easily imagine an amateur actor balking at getting a major haircut for a role in a two-week run, but this isn't community theatre — theatre groups with artistic aspirations require professionalism. As Baylen, the police detective, Tonino Zaccagnini has a hurdle to overcome: Mamet has given us a character willing to take a lot more guff from characters such as Roma than any real detective would be likely to do. The only thing I can think of to remedy this flaw in the script itself is to come as close to exploding as the circumstances will allow, with the actor playing Roma visibly backing off when he see's he has just about gone too far.

 

Jagoda also deserves credit for his additional role as scenic designer, aided by Traci Jo Rizzo as properties director of this very good-looking production. But despite some quibbles, this is a promising first production from a group that hopes to do high-quality productions of some challenging plays in the months to come. "Glengarry Glen Ross" continues through June 12 at the Varner Studio Theatre in Varner Hall on the campus of Oakland University in Auburn Hills.

 

For performance and ticket information, call (586) 246-7546 or go to www.epicentertheatregroup.org.

Read 5429 times Last modified on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 07:52
Robert Delaney

Robert Delaney is a writer for New Monitor.

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