Before the show, a couple is overheard talking:
Her: You know there’s a lot of profanity in this play?
Him: That’s why I came.
Her: Well it’s not why I came.
Lakeside appears to have digested all nine performances of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” with a good deal of satisfaction and nary a burp.
Respectable turnouts unmarred by any openly irate audience members, according to producer and theater founder Jayme Littlejohn, as well as standing ovations for the last two shows and glowing comments from audiences calmed fears that Lakeside audiences were not ready for this intense “dramedy,” as some dubbed it, in which the characters are so venal and foul-mouthed, they are funny.
“We were never sure exactly where we would get a laugh,” said Littlejohn, who besides producing the play and founding Bravo! Theatre, had the role of Ricky Roma, one of the despicable employees in the Chicago real-estate office depicted in “Glengarry.” (Another uncertain aspect of the production was its nearly all-female cast playing rough, all-male roles — and playing them dressed as women, while retaining the script’s male pronouns and names such as John, George and Dave.)
But the play was far from a string of f-words in all possible permutations. Although the setting was not exotic and the whodunit (complete with a detective crisply played by Barbara Pruit) revolved around figuring out who broke into the office and made off with a list of valuable leads, the denouement turned heartbreaking when things fell apart for the most desperate real estate agent, poignantly played by Jacinta Stringer, a Brit speaking with a New York accent as she depicted Shelley “The Machine” Levene. (The role was played so well in the film by heavyweight actor Jack Lemmon that he won Best Actor at the 1992 Venice Film Festival.)
A sprinkling of audience members on the final evening said it was their second time seeing this production and noted it was rare for a play at lakeside to boast so many people with professional experience. One raved that Bravo!, a “relatively new theater group,” had “elevated lakeside on par with international productions.”
Perhaps the only negative may be that, after months of hard work, the close of the show meant a precipitous letdown for those involved. “It takes me a week or two to come down after a play,” said Roseann Wilshere, who portrayed the unscrupulous salesman George Aaronow.
Wilshere emphasized that the script had been linguistically challenging, with all the pauses and interruptions of real speech.
“After seeing the play, people think I stutter, but I don’t,” she laughed. “Mamet actually wrote ‘I’m … I’m … I’m … I’m …’ – four times in one of my lines!
“We’d love to do it again,” she ventured. “Maybe in Guadalajara … who knows?”
After the show:
Her: Did you enjoy it?
Him: Yes. Did you?
Her: Yeah … well, maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t exactly the right word.