By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The most memorable scene in the 1992 movie of Glengarry—Alec Baldwin as Blake, a downtown hotshot swinging brass balls and giving the eight-minute "Always be closing" speech—doesn't happen in the stage version. But you won't miss it. Except for Baldwin's cameo and Al Pacino's Ricky Roma, the movie's stars were mostly awkward fits in their roles. (Jack Lemmon way oversold Levene's forced levity and subsequent breakdown and got an Oscar nom anyway.)
Glengarry Glen Ross has to be experienced live to be appreciated, and for once Dallas Theater Center uses its penchant for out-of-town talent prudently. Older New York actors Dukakis (seen before at DTC in Anna in the Tropics and Taming of the Shrew) and Davidson perform Mamet's most difficult spurts of dialogue like great tenors finding every nuance in Nessun Dorma. They don't have comparable local counterparts.
The best performance comes from another import. Tall, curly-haired Peter Rini, who also has numerous Broadway credits, blows the doors off DTC's Kalita Humphreys Theater as Ricky Roma. He's the Soprano cousin in the Midwest, a slick and sexy seducer of shmucks like Lingk who get swept into his charming palaver and only later realize they've been had. The most recent Broadway revival of Glengarry won Liev Schreiber a Tony for playing Roma. It's a showy role, and young Rini puts on a great show in it.
Before Enron, before WorldCom, before all those corporate fairy tales wherein fraudulent trolls made billions convincing stockholders they'd spun straw into gold, David Mamet correctly predicted the future of the business model. It's not the product that's valuable; it's "the leads" eager to buy into it that you need to get your hands on.
If that's a hard sell for Glengarry Glen Ross—both the play and the exhilarating production at DTC—so be it. This is great American theater on a great American stage. Through Mamet's dynamic games of verbal kick-the-can we get the modern Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman was a weary dreamer simply hoping his sons would grow up to be well-liked. Mamet's boys could give a shit about popularity. Getting well-paid is their imperative, even if it means screwing somebody else out of the American dream.