Competitive world of real estate sales plays out in Glengarry Glen Ross coming to La Jolla Playhouse
By Diana Saenger
David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award, opens at the La Jolla Playhouse under the direction of Christopher Ashley on Sept. 18. In 2005, it garnered a Tony Award for “Best Revival of a Play.”
The story centers on a group of real estate salesmen who employ every trick in the book to survive. Some of those tactics affect them and their goals of attaining The American Dream.
The title comes from the names of two of the real estate developments being peddled by the salesmen characters, Glengarry High- lands and Glen Ross Farms.
Peter Maloney, who plays Shelly “The Machine” Levene, said the play is as relevant today as it was in 1984.
“It’s timeless, and I think one of the best plays ever written,” Maloney said. “There’s a saying that ‘if one day someone invented a deck of cards, the next day someone would figure out how to cheat with that deck.’ This story is about an aging salesman who is desperate to succeed and does for a moment, but then the opportunities are gone.”
As a writer, director and actor, Maloney knows story development from all an- gles. Some of his Broadway performances include such heavyweights as “West Side Story,” “Judgment at Nuremburg,” “Dinner at Eight,” “Carousel,” and “Six Degrees of Separation.” He’s appeared in 50 films and on TV. So why take on the role of Shelly Levene right now?
“I love Mamet,” Maloney said. “There are pages and pages of dialogue, so it’s tough, but Shelly is one of the greatest characters I’ve had the chance to play during my 50 years in this business. When Howard Rosenstone, David’s agent, died, David asked me to read the opening scene, featuring Shelly, at Howard’s memorial service. That confirmed what I already knew; Mamet was an excellent writer. I was stunned by the excellence of the play and saw it five times in New York.”
Maloney knows Mamet is fascinated by the con. “This story is about power,” he said. “It’s about who’s on top. These men are like lions with the young ones nipping at the heels of their peers.”
“Glengarry Glen Ross,” is well known for its excessive profanity and since this is the original script, patrons should be aware that the dialogue is full of vulgarity. “To me this play has the best writing in American theater,” Maloney said. “There’s not one word wasted. Mamet writes like a composer with a musical aspect to the words — especially in the rhythms. The profanity is there because that’s the way people talk. This is Chicago, and these are macho men working in a fraudulent business selling property to people who don’t need it or can’t afford it. It’s stories like this that kept viewers watching ‘The Sopranos’ for seven years.”
If you go
■ What: ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’
■ When: Matinees, evenings, Sept. 18-Oct. 21
■ Where: Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, UCSD campus
■ Tickets: From $15
■ Phone: (858) 550-1010
■ Website: lajollaplayhouse.org
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