There is something truly poetic about the intimacy of watching a performance in the warm and cozy chamber of a storefront theatre. While this may be so, it seems as though calling Red Sandcastle Theatre’s production of Mamet’s classic Glengarry Glen Ross cozy would be deeply undermining the brutal portrayal of this production’s cast of hard-hitting real estate killers. Firing dialogue at the audience like shotgun shells, I left a theatre with smoke billowing from the front door.
To begin with, it is important to mention that this was the first time I had ever seen a production of Glengarry that was in fact gender swapped from the original, delivering an all-male show with an entirely female cast. That being said, it wasn’t a surprise that it translated as well as it did, offering a more postmodern view of a world that is already very much part of our own today.
Though there were a few bumps along the way in terms of the sharpness of Mamet’s dialogue, the delivery was swift and focused, making it feel as though we were eavesdropping on some of the most morally profound degenerates in the history of Chicago’s darkly opaque dive bars. The performers all seemed to give their own interesting interpretations of the characters, though my two favourites happened to be that of Dave Moss (Francoise Balthazar) and Shelly Levene (Elizabeth Saunders).
Balthazar’s portrayal of Dave Moss, the outspoken battery of the of show’s main conflict, had more balls than any collective male cast of Glengarry. Her heavy, grounded portrayal of the character offered both a funny and unforgiving display of loveable scum and a nice balance to Marianne Sawchuk’s spiteful tenderness with her portrayal of Richard Roma. Saunders' portrayal of the play’s veteran pond scum, Shelly Levene, was particularly well played, not only because of the swift delivery, but the liveliness applied to the character’s already dying desperation to remain afloat in the grimy world of real estate.
Directed by Anita la Selva, Glengarry Glen Ross is playing at the Red Sandcastle Theatre until April 26. For more information visit www.redsandcastletheatre.com.