Blue Canoe treads new waters

Blue Canoe Productions takes a risk with their production of Glengarry Glen Ross, featuring a young male cast and profane script

John Williamson (left) is the hated office manager in charge of assigning sales leads and Shelly Levene (right) is the older real estate agent, in denial about being past his prime.
John Williamson (left) is the hated office manager in charge of assigning sales leads and Shelly Levene (right) is the older real estate agent, in denial about being past his prime.

Blue Canoe Productions never put on a play using expletives. like “fuck.” Then they picked Glengarry Glen Ross.

Over half of the company’s previous 14 plays have been musicals, including Guys & Dolls. A Youtube trailer for Blue Canoe’s Glengarry Glen Ross ends with a warning.

Third-year Queen’s drama student Kevin Tanner chose the David Mamet play for his first outing as a director. Tanner said he opted to do the play even though it was a big departure from the company’s usual fare.

Glengarry Glen Ross
spans two days in a cut-throat world of real estate.

As you walk into the Baby Grand Theatre on Princess Street, the scene is already set — a smartly dressed character is at work in a Chinese restaurant. There are 70 seats in the theatre and the front row is a foot from the stage. The space, adjacent to the larger Grand Theatre, feels even smaller and more intimate than it already is.

In the first act, the DIY set is a chalkboard sign with Chinese characters and a red lantern hanging overhead. Cheap plates and chopsticks are strewn where the salesmen have finished eating. Act two is set in the real estate office — a rundown file cabinet in the corner and a pile of contracts spread across a desk. A video loop of people and cars passing on the street mimics a real window.

Six of the play’s seven actors are Queen’s drama students.

Alex Oliver, as salesman Ricky Roma, is the highlight. He transitions from a quiet monologue in the first act to a rageful second-act, with lines like “What are you going to do about it, asshole? You’re fucking shit.”

Actor Paul Dyck, is always on the verge of smiling. He’s intriguing as salesman Dave Moss, adding a streak of humour that’s absent in the original.

Damien Doepping faces challenges as salesman Shelly Levene. Make-up and costume design fall short, making it difficult to remember the fourth-year is supposed to be playing a middle-aged real estate agent fighting retirement. But, Doepping does so by acting gentle compared to the other, younger characters.

Though he started slowly, Aidan Payne succeeded in creating a creepy sense of control as office manager John Williamson.

Alex Ieletzky struggled as real estate buyer James Lingk. He’s nervous and his final lines are mumbled and unclear.

Glengarry Glen Ross is edgy and exciting. Tanner pushes Blue Canoe’s boundaries and his actors take on a challenging script.

Glengarry Glen Ross plays at the Baby Grand Theatre starting tonight until Sunday at 8 p.m. with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

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