Desperation drips out of every inch of David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," now on stage at Beowulf Alley Theatre.
You can almost taste it as real estate salesman Shelly Levene sits in a Chinese restaurant with his boss, begging the heartless guy to throw him a few solid leads.
Levene, you see, wants to win the monthly contest, which promises a Cadillac to the winner, and the loss of a job to the loser.
The desperation is less transparent and so more devastating as another salesman, Richard Roma, oozes oily charm as he stands over a mild-mannered man trying to persuade him to buy some land.
And you can see it in the way salesman Dave Moss feverishly works to get a co-worker to break into the office and steal the sales leads. The guy is a verbal heavyweight, and he isn't above psychological bullying.
The characters, the story and, especially, the rhythm and force of Mamet's words have given this play an active life ever since it opened in the early 1980s.
This production, directed with a swiftness and understanding by Susan Arnold, firmly puts the struggling Beowulf back on the road to success after a few years of artistic decline.
Clark Andreas Ray's smooth-talking Romo was so slick you wanted to bathe after spending time with him. His scene with a weak-spined customer (a finely cast Jim Ambrosek) gave us a glimpse into the desperation-knows-no-ethics mind-set.
Bill Epstein captured the musicality of Mamet's language, and the character's deep fear of failure. He and Michael "Miko" Gifford as the unfeeling and emotionally removed boss Tony set the tone of anger and heartlessness that is pervasive throughout the 90-minute play.
Michael Fenlason's take as the manipulative Moss, a salesman anxious to have someone steal the leads and sell them to a competitor, hit all the right notes.
Filling out the cast and their characters were Tony Caprile as Aaronow, a salesman with little confidence and a world-weary soul, and Mark Klugheit in a small part as a no-nonsense detective trying to solve the crime of the office break-in.
While this production has a relentless beat that demands your attention, the final scene petered out. That scene, necessary to leave the audience with a sense of the depth of the tragedy of these people, should have been delivered with a much sharper energy and focus.
Still, Beowulf's production of "Glengarry Glen Ross" is a play that speaks to today just as it did to the '80s.
And while it's impossible to like the characters, it's equally impossible to ignore the power of this play.
• What: Beowulf Alley Theatre Company's production of "Glengarry Glen Ross."
• By: David Mamet.
• Director: Susan Arnold.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 18.
• Where: Beowulf Alley Theatre Company, 11 S. Sixth Ave.
• Tickets: $20, with discounts available.
• Reservations, information: beowulfalley.org or 882-0555.
• Running time: About 90 minutes, with one intermission
• Et cetera: The play contains adult language.