Glengarry Glen Ross, Profiles Performance Ensemble.

In an age of phenomenal gains in productivity–built on the backs of the overworked, the underpaid, and the downsized–David Mamet’s brutal two-act portrait of hard-bodied contemporary capitalism as reflected in a sleazy real estate office should be relevant. The contest that sets the plot rolling could even pass for the credo of the Republican Congress: first prize is a Cadillac, second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is you’re fired.

So how come Profiles Performance Ensemble’s production of this marvelous play is so perfunctory and soporific? Perhaps the company is out of touch with contemporary America thanks to its recent romps in Rod Serling-land via Twilight Zone and Requiem for a Heavyweight. More likely, however, this production, like others at Profiles, has been done in by uneven casting and occasionally unfocused direction. See Fred Wellisch’s remarkably inconsistent performance as the office loser Levene–it’s criminal how slowly and flatly he delivers Mamet’s lines, especially early on. But some of the actors totally get it. See Darrell Christopher’s electric performance as the office dynamo Roma. The rest seem more or less clueless. Joe Jahraus, for example, is alert only during his big scene at the end, when his character gets to snort and stamp around and generally play the righteously angry Mamet-esque male.

Mamet’s taut, poetic dialogue is not very forgiving: either you hit the rhythm right and look great, or you don’t and you look like a nonnative speaker mouthing an enigmatic language.