MONTREAL — A. B. C.: always be closing.
The art of the real estate deal, albeit one with a very dirty potty mouth, takes a turn north of the border as the Segal Centre for Performing Arts presents the David Mamet classic drama “Glengarry Glen Ross” for a limited two-week run beginning Sunday.
“Glengarry Glen Ross,” which won Mamet a Pulitzer Prize in 1984, follows a group of four lowly, bottom-feeding Chicago real estate agents who aren’t exactly at the top of their respective games as they attempt to sell undesirable real estate by means of bribery and intimidation. R.H. Thomson plays the role of Shelly “The Machine” Levine, an aging salesman who has fallen on hard times. Thomson says the play is a “mini-version in a way” of another classic, “Death of a Salesman.”
“But in a harsher, more sardonic take,” Thomson said. “This is dark comedy.”
Thomson has a quick reply as to why theater-goers love the work so much.
“Because it’s funny,” he said. “It’s not funny smiley, it’s funny because of the absurdity of the traps that these guys are in.”
Thomson references the legendary “three days argument” in the script.
“It turns into (Abbot and Costello’s) ‘Who’s on First?’” Thomson said. “But this one is lethal.”
The work is indeed a dream role for an ensemble cast of actors, Thomson says.
“It’s the same reason why playing a Bach cantata is a dream for a violinist.”
Rehearsals aren’t just an all-day sparring match.
“We do laugh,” Thomson said. “We also do a lot of line running.”
Thomson says Mamet wrote a very precise script, one with a lot of exact punctuation and impact. For an example he reads a quick, seemingly simple line: “John. John. John. Okay. John. John. Look (pause).”