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`Glengarry,' with a fresh urgency, makes the sale

November 22, 2006|F. Kathleen Foley | Special to The Times

It's hard to believe, but it's been more than 20 years since David Mamet's Pulitzer-winning "Glengarry Glen Ross" premiered on Broadway. A Darwinian parable about capitalism run amok, "Glengarry" revolves around a group of unscrupulous real estate salesmen who high-pressure their gullible victims into buying property of dubious worth.

Insectile in their rapacity, Mamet's propulsively profane characters constantly probe for weakness, then strike. Just when you think you see a glimmer of humanity amid the carnage, the feeding frenzy recommences.

Director Lara Tal gives the play fresh urgency in her effectively stark, sharply paced staging at the Actor's Playpen. As Shelley Levene, an aging salesman who has lost his edge, James Aidan McAffrey invests the role with an underplayed intensity that makes us forget that he's actually a couple of decades too young to play the role. Far smoother and more successful is Levene's fair-weather friend Roma (Robert Dolan), a devious wheeler-dealer whose dead eyes are the windows to a derelict soul.

The excellent cast, which includes Lou Saliba, Peter Holden, Charles Constant and Chet Grissom, never strikes a false note. Even understudy Frank Ruotolo (subbing for Scott Allen Rinker) gives a faultless performance as a colorless functionary with surprisingly vengeful depths. And in the current climate of corporate scandals and corruption, Mamet's "Me" decade play seems, depressingly, even more timely than ever.


`Glengarry Glen Ross'

Where: The Actor's Playpen, 1514 N. Gardner St., Los Angeles

When: 8 p.m. Fridays to Sundays

Ends: Dec. 10

Price: $15

Contact: (626) 354-4732

Running time: 2 hours

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