Glengarry Glen Ross, Open Door Repertory Company, at the River Forest Women’s Club. David Mamet’s 1984 play about three rabid real estate salesmen trying to unload worthless Florida land is deceptively simple, consisting of only four scenes, three of them featuring just two people. But beneath Mamet’s witty, laconic dialogue boils everything you need to get by in the business world: rage, violence, and a taste for sadomasochism.
The success of this brilliant, Pulitzer-winning script hinges on whether the director understands the depth of its cruelty and is able to attract actors capable of connecting to that vicious subtext without making it too obvious. Open Door’s bland production indicates that director Paul Amandes was unable to do either. Though Kevin Bry isn’t bad as slick shark Richard Roma, he hardly seems carnivorous enough to be the office’s top salesman. And Raymond Shoemaker is way too flighty and easily flustered to play John Williamson, the mean-spirited office manager responsible in large part for torturing the once great, now fallen salesman Shelly Levene (the very Waspy Leo Harmon, obviously miscast).
More damning still, no one seems comfortable with Mamet’s biting dialogue. Several actors even stuttered trying to spit their lines out, the theatrical equivalent of a stand-up comedian sneezing during a punch line. If you can’t get Mamet’s rhythms right, you might as well hang it up. You’re never going to get at his plays’ deeper meanings.