Written in 1984, the play explores the grimy, sad underbelly of American capitalism hinted at in the earlier classic, “Death of a Salesman.” The most celebrated playwright of his generation, David Mamet raises cursing to a symbolic, syncopated language of its own. Asolo Rep’s production is fast, furious and funny! Due to the coarse language, which has become so much more common these days, the Rep even holds a mini seminar for audience members interested in learning more about the employment of realistically foul discourse in art.
Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play reveals the darkly Darwinistic world of salesmen, clearly delineating the A-list players from the nebbishes. Director Carl Forsman’s electric direction is tinged with a twitchy edginess, and the powerhouse cast delivers, punching out their archetypal characters with an in-your-face alacrity.
“Mamet himself describes the play as a gang comedy. People who only know the movie are going to be surprised at how much funnier the play is,” said Forsman. “It’s a whodunit, wrapped inside a comedy, wrapped around an economic parable.”
These guys sell swampland in Florida. It’s not about the product; it’s the personality and the strategy that sells.
Familiar faces at the Asolo — Douglas Jones as Shelly Levene and David Breitbarth as George Aaronow — are brilliant, as always. Eric Hissom makes the part of Ricky Roma his own, transfiguring the famous phrase, “Always be closing.” Another big cheese in this outfit, convincingly played by Jay Patterson as Dave Moss, comes off like a successful graduate of a neurolinguistic programming class, popular around that time. Jesse Dornan, third-year FSU student who played Wilbur Henderson in “You Can’t Take It With You,” may be on his way to being typecast with his successful portrayal of John Williamson, often maligned salaried office assistant. Francisco Rodriguez is unrecognizable from his role as Mr. De Pinna in “You Can’t Take It With You”; he transforms himself into poor schlub James Lingk for this part. Jacob Cooper, also a third-year student, plays put upon detective Baylen.
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