Although David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” is 24 years old, its caustically funny look at power dynamics still snaps and sizzles with authenticity. Its situational morality — how much should one screw over one’s co-workers while lying and cheating to get ahead — sadly rings true now more than ever. The new production at the Macha Theater, all profits of which benefit the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, nicely captures the play’s swagger and underlying desperation. Director Seth Howard focuses sharply on the ever-changing relationships between the characters, catching the subtle shifts, and his skillful cast tears into Mamet’s meaty dialogue like expert carnivores.
The story concerns a real estate office conducting a Darwinian contest in sales: the highest grossing salesman wins a Cadillac, the loser gets fired. This sets the stage for all sorts of underhanded behavior, from conning hapless clients and bribing managers to plotting and executing the robbery of the all-important customer leads.
William Russ is magnificent as Shelly Levene, a onetime cock-of-the-walk whose hustle has begun to go hollow. His scenes with the callow younger manager, Williamson (David Lascher), are sterling examples of the layering of a character, as Levene’s desire to demand respect battles pitiably with his need to avoid being fired. Lascher is quite good as the irritated Williamson, chilling as he destroys the older man with a cruel phrase. Anson Mount’s Richard Roma is deceptively casual, but alive to the twists and turns of the con; his furious series of putdowns to Williamson is delivered brilliantly.
David Lipper is grimly hilarious as the vengeful Dave Moss, relentlessly pressuring his friend George Aaronow (Ian Gomez) to rob the office. His second-act explosion at Roma and Levene is a thing of beauty, a supernova of selfish rage. Gomez flails expertly as the hapless Aaronow, and Michael Monks is quietly sympathetic as Roma’s latest target. Kevin Benton, finally, does a nice slow boil of anger as Baylen.
Danny Truxow’s sets and lighting are adequate.