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Blank Canvas Theatre’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross pulls no punches

As the house opens up for the Blank Canvas production of Glengarry Glen Ross the audience is serenaded by a collection of money inspired pop tunes from the Beatles, BTO, James Taylor and Steve Miller which sets the mood for the play. We are told that money “Is What I Want,’ how we need to be “Taking Care of Business,” be working the “Money Machine,” and to “Take the Money and Run.”

Glengarry Glen Ross is the 1984 play (later made into a movie by the same name) who has no qualms about its central theme…unchecked, unadulterated, unregulated Greed! It is the 80s and six men work out of a real estate office that deals with questionable “land investments” that balance precariously on the edge of the legal razor. These are men who have absolutely no scruples and will do anything to make the sale and get ahead over the others. They will use lies flattery, bribery, threats, intimidation and even burglary to sell undesirable real estate in Arizona and Florida to unwitting prospective buyers.

Two storylines play out then come together over the course of the two act play. Shelly (The Machine) Levine is an older salesman whose glory days are long past but is trying the once again prove himself. First he has to convince the office manager, John Williamson (nephew of the owners) that he is worthy to get some A List leads. The top dog of the office is Richard Roma who is Shelly’s protégé and is on the top of the selling board and in line to win the top sales prize of the month, a new Cadillac. His latest client James Lingk has had a change of heart due to pressure from his wife which puts Roma’s prize in jeopardy. George Aaronow and Dave Moss are two disgruntled employees who consistently get the short end of the stick and plan to wreck their revenge on the office. Balen is the police detective sent to uncover who burgled the office.

This play requires careful casting of men who look and are the parts that they represent. Fortunately for the audience the casting is spot on. Darrell Starnik as Shelly will do anything to regain his glory days. He is bombastic and belligerent especially concerning his boss Williamson (Daniel Scott Telford) who tries to fight back from the verbal attacks but is no match against Levene’s art of linguistics. In the end it is the younger man who holds sway.

Jeff Glover is Dave Moss, the big mouth of the office that is hatching a scheme for his revenge by playing the various salesmen against each other. Chris D’Amico plays George Aaronow as the timid older statesman of the group who is unwillingly and unwittingly forced into the scheme by Moss. Greg Mandryk is James Lingk who is trying to keep peace at home by getting his money back from this group of sharks. The barbs fly fast and furious as the men pit themselves against an untrusting and skeptical world as well as themselves. It is in effect a verbal tennis match which ends with an ace surprise ending.

Prude Alert: There is a lot of foul language (the program gives the play an “R” Rating. There is also quite a bit of verbal racial profiling as the men bad mouth their unproductive sales clients.

Beefs and Flubs: There was the usual amount of opening night jitters as some lines were sporadic and step on.

Shooting From The Lip (In My Opinion): Taking a break from the offbeat musical that is Blank Canvas’s bread and butter, this show is a dramatic summertime treat that shows what truly engaging theater can do for the imagination. While the theater is still quite warm it is worth a light discomfort to see a truly exemplary performance.

The Blank Canvas production of Glengarry Glen Ross will be on stage through August 20, 2016 with shows on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by clicking HERE.

Blank Canvas Theatre has it home at 78th Street Studios in Suite 211 that is located at 1305 W. 78th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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