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"Glengarry Glen Ross" delivers on the Atlanta stage
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It's a dog-eat-dog world.

That's the heart and soul of David Mammet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," the 1984 Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning play depicting two days in the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents.

Set firmly in the world of 1980s' materialism and greed, the film details the unethical and ultimately illegal lengths the characters will go to in order to push undesirable property on unsuspecting buyers.

In a way, the play's central cast of agents reflect a modern take on medieval Wheel of Fortune, illustrating the fated cycle of fortune and misfortune.

There's Richard Roma (Neal A Ghant), the office's top seller and current golden boy, full of youthful confidence and hunger. On the other end of the spectrum is the play's iconic Shelly Levene (Chris Kayser).

Formerly nicknamed "The Machine" for his sales prowess, the middle-aged, down-on-his-luck Levene is constantly looking for a way to turn around his losing streak and climb back up to the level of success Roma currently enjoys.

Meanwhile, fellow salesmen Dave Moss (David de Vries) and George Aaronow (Larry Larson) try desperately to make ends meet in the cut-throat world of big-city real estate.

Standing in Levene, Moss and Aaronow's ways, however, are the dead-end leads they're forced to work with. They need the good "Glengarry leads" (which contain the contact info for promising potential buyers), but Office Manager John Williamson has been instructed to marshal these out sparingly and only to successful sellers such as Roma.

 Levene begs and ultimately attempts to bribe Williamson to impart just a single, strong lead to him - just enough to turn his luck around. Meanwhile, Moss hatches a plan to stage an office burglary and sell the Glengarry leads to a rival real estate office.

Desperate characters, shady business practices and the machinations of criminal activity lay the building blocks for great drama and Mammet's masterful use of language brings everything together for what amounts to some of the tightest and enthralling modern playwriting one is likely to find.

The dialogue in "Glengarry Glen Ross" is nothing short of dynamic, full of snap, rhythm and vulgarity, all woven into a modern tapestry of ruthless desperation and conniving charm. From the characters' sales pitches to their vitriolic personal attacks, their words cut straight to the bone.

The actors in the Alliance Theatre's current production of the play had their work cut out for them, following in the footsteps of such past "Glengarry" actors of stage and film as Kevin Spacey and Jeffrey Tambor, but manage to more than deliver the dramatic goods, powerfully and flawlessly bringing all of Mammet's language to fierce life on the Hertz stage.

In the wake of the 1992 film adaptation of the play, many may find it difficult to accept anyone other than Jack Lemmon in the role of Levene, and a few may even have their viewing colored by the Levene-inspired character of Gil Gunderson on "The Simpsons," but Alliance-regular Chris Kayser delivers a solid performance in what has become an icon of the down-on-his-luck salesman character.

While the "if you only see one play this year" shill is a bit ridiculous given the sheer volume of quality theater the average Newton County resident has the chance to take advantage of on any given night in Atlanta, Athens or locally, "Glengarry Glen Ross" is the caliber of play one should feel pressed to see. "Glengarry Glen Ross" is important. It's influential. And it's potent.

"Glengary Glen Ross" will run through April 15 on the Alliance Theatre's Hertz stage. Seating is limited. The play contains strong adult language. Parental guidance is suggested.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the boxoffice at (404) 733-5000.