On Monday the 25th, I had the opportunity to watch Black Swan Theatre’s latest production Glengarry Ross. An ensemble production with two key focus characters, Shelly (Peter Rowsthorn) and Ricky (Damian Walshe-Howling), with some notable performances by;
- Luke Hewitt
- Ben Mortley
- Will O‘Mahony
- Kenneth Ransom
- Steve Turner
It is a very dialogue driven, and fast paced piece, as the characters deal with the stress of being door-to-door sales men under a new management policy. The stress of the job, and the new rewards policy, has put the pressure on the team as we witness Shelly trying to cut a deal with the despised John Williamson (Will O‘Mahony), Dave Moss (Kenneth Ransom) coercing co-worker George (Luke Hewitt) into stealing from the office, and Ricky Roma making a hard sale on the timid and submissive James Lingk (Steve Turner). The role of Baylen (Ben Mortley) is a small one, as the detective brought in to question all about the robbery.
I am going to put a few different hats, and try to be objective here. I’ll start with a general audience point of view.
There were times when the dialogue was a little rushed, making some of the conversation a little hard to follow, and being such a wordy piece, there is a lot of dialogue. In a way, I think it added a little to the frustration of the scenes, although I doubt that was the intention.
Apart from that, the pacing was engrossing, although somewhat short. I must admit, I am not familiar with Glengarry Ross, and was not prepared for the slightly longer than one-act length.
As I mention above, this is a very wordy play, which can be daunting to a performer of any calibre, particularly the monologue by Ricky in the first half. I am certain that I saw at least two of the actors struggle with their lines a few times, yet managed to keep the show moving at its high pacing. The parts of Moss, Shelly, and Ricky I found to be most entertaining with some of the more interesting interactions and commentary on the topic of the play.
I would have like to seen some use of drop-mics or similar to help with the volume of the piece, particularly in the opening half where the performances are of a secretive nature. Even some low-gain mics hidden within the furniture could have helped.
Notable mentions for performances are Damian Walshe-Howling (Ricky), Luke Hewitt (George), and Kenneth Ransom (Moss) who showed great diversity and depth of character. It is a pity the character of Baylen was not fleshed out a little more as Ben’s short appearances were rather commanding.
The use of the stage was rather ingenious. Placed on a rotating stage, there were three “sets”. It was actually two sets with one being used twice. Initially, you are presented with two restaurant scenes which form the back of the main stage space. The set is rotated between the two slightly different restaurant for the first three scenes, before turning around completely to reveal the large, hidden office behind. This brought those first scenes up close to the audience, which added a certain level of “privacy” to the scene.
There were a few blocking issues on the main set, with a few of the actors finding themselves talking up-stage a lot, but generally the space gave a lot of options for the cast to move around. George’s desk was a little hidden behind a wall and other desks which meant he disappeared at one point.
As with any production, nothing ever goes smoothly, as I well know personally. That said, this show is still very entertaining and worth a look. It was good to see Peter Rowsthorn on stage (Comedy Company, Kath & Kim, Paper Planes).