David F-ing Mamet

Posted by on February 20, 2013 in culture | Comments Off

Last night, we went to see GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, at one of the local theater companies (Roundhouse Theatre.  Incidentally, is there *anyone* who thinks that live productions are more authentic or better-produced if one sees them (in the States) in a theatre, instead of a theater?  Many of the local companies use the British spelling, and I find that unbelievably affected!)

In any case.  GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.  The Washington Post reviewer noted that GLENGARRY is the second-most trenchant American-theater comment on our nation’s capitalism (with DEATH OF A SALESMAN being the first).  I’m not sure that’s true, but I’m quite intrigued by comparing and contrasting Mamet (essentially a series of dialogs with a few other exclamation points, more or less the way real people talk and manipulate each other, foul-mouthed) with Miller (a “well-made play”, with careful construction of scenes and poetic language that carries its own literary power, but has little relationship to how real people talk in real situations.)

RoundHouse did a great job with GLENGARRY, and the lead, Shelly, was played by one of my favorite local actors.  He did a tremendous amount with facial expressions, conveying entire *speeches* just by the way he turned his lips.

I didn’t remember the play being so sort (75 minutes long), and the ending sort of took me by surprise.  I suspect that I’ll be re-watching the movie sometime soon.  (I remember that the Alec Baldwin role was wholly created for the film, and I remember Jack Lemmon as Shelly, but a lot of the rest has faded…)

Oh – and the *set* was one of the most impressive that I’ve seen on one of DC’s stages — possibly *the* most impressive on one of the small local stages.  The first scene takes place in a Chinese restaurant, and the second scene takes place in a run-down office.  The transition between the two was accomplished by multiple intricate turntables, rotating in different directions so that the restaurants set broke, spun out, and was reconstituted as the office.  They *could* have done the same effect with one huge turntable, but I suspect they didn’t have the space or machinery, and their solution was simply brilliant (receiving a round of applause from the audience.)

And one more “oh” – the actors delivered their lines at the necessary fast pace, but they *didn’t* use typical “Mamet-speak” – that rat-a-tat-tat delivery made so famous by Joe Mantegna.  I preferred the more naturalistic delivery.

Now, I just have to get all that sailor-talk out of my mind, to go write like a lady!

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