Glengarry Glen Ross is about a group of real estate agents dealing with a changing business world – something like a cross between Wolf of Wall Street and My Girl Friday.
The balance between mainstream and independent theatre is an interesting one. I speak not as a member of the theatre world, but as an audience member demanding to be entertained. As such, when I see mainstream theatre, I expect it to provide something that independent does not (and vice versa, but that’s for another review). The Segal knows how to do just that. Not a single risk was taken on this play. The script was a tried-and-true classic. The actors were masters at their craft – not a single stammer or hesitation. The set was gorgeous, and the transitions were flawless. Even the music was neither too high nor too low. If I were to sum this play up in one word, it would be “polished.”
None of the actors stood out, and I mean that as a testament to their awesomeness. I have thus far never been exposed to that much talent in one room. All too often, one diva will eclipse their fellow actors with an over-the-top performance. Sometimes, it’s painfully obvious that one actor just isn’t up to par with the others, and the energy drops every time they say a line. In this case, however, the actors moved like a school of fish. They all kept perfect pace with a lightning-fast dialogue. The mood was electric. No single actor was magnetic – rather, together, they magnetized the stage.
During the first half, the set was a Chinese restaurant booth, and during the second, it was an office. Being extremely tired of the recurring junkyard set, I was instantly delighted to see the vibrant red and gold of the booth. The office, though dreary, was put together with fantastic attention to detail.
I have to mention one particular moment that really put this show over the top for me. At the end, the lights went out for the briefest moment, then, when they came on again, the entire cast was assembled on stage in a suitably cocky pose. It was a typical ending, but how they had managed to assemble onstage so quickly, in the dark, without making a sound, with bits of an elaborate set laid precariously in their way was beyond me. It was one of those magical moments of theatre that are easy to overlook, but they make the difference between a decent play and a really perfect one. If you can make the audience wonder, How did they do that?” once, even if it’s for a small thing, it just makes the whole experience that much more awesome.
Theatre, both independent and mainstream, seems to be on a winning streak. I recommend we take full advantage of it and hope it lasts.
Glengarry Glen Ross plays at the Segal Centre (5170 Cote Ste. Catherine) until March 30. Tickets $24-49.