Glengarry delayed

Adjacent to our previous place in Ealing was Questors Theatre, the largest community theatre in Europe. It was literally adjacent: our building shared an exterior wall with it. We often heard production, or practices, from within, and people on the street were always asking directions to it.

Yet, despite living there for 3 years, we never once saw a production at Questors. It’s sad, but we just never got around to it. We’ve now moved, but only 5 minutes away, and in 2 more years we’ve still never been.

Yesterday, however, we were walking past on our way to the Ealing Farmer’s Market and the missus noticed that this week they’re doing a production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.

I love Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s one of my favourite films ever, and I saw a west end production of it a couple years back, as I blogged at the time. This was without a doubt the time to right the years of theatrical neglect. When we got home I immediately booked tickets for that very evening.

We went, and it’s a lovely little theatre, very friendly and with a nice pub inside. We settled into our seats – very close, as they all are – to enjoy the play.

And we did. The acting was community theatre, sure, but fun nonetheless. Mamet’s dialog in this play is riveting for me, and it would still have impact if spoken through a speech synthesizer. But I was enjoying it. We all were, the just-over-half-full audience. The intermission came, midway through Ricky Roma’s pitch to James Lingk. We stretched and waited for the second half.

After the break we got the scene where Roma comes in and, amid the trashed office, demands his Cadillac. Then Shelly ‘the Machine’ Levene comes in and goes through his story about selling 8 units to the Nyborgs. In the exchange between Levene and Williamson, the actor playing Levene suddenly pauses.

It’s a pause that’s longer than it should be.

He repeats his last line.

There’s another very long pause. I’m expecting him to yell, “Line.”

He doesn’t. He turns, drops his American accent, and walks offstage, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m very sorry.”

The two actors left on stage – playing Roma and Williamson – stare at each other for a minute.

Much of the audience don’t yet seem to have figured out this isn’t part of the play.

After a horrible silence, Roma says to Williamson, “Lunch?” and they walk off.

A moment later, a woman walks onto stage and apologises, saying that the actor playing Levene will be unable to continue. Is this terrible nerves, I think?

People leave in a confused state. Murmurs start going ’round the crowd that he was actually ill. That might explain why he didn’t just call for his next line. Either way, I feel really badly for the guy, and I hope he gets better soon.

Questors were ood about it, though, and – since we’d only gotten about two-thirds of the way through the play – let us all exchange our tickets for another night this week. So we try again on Wednesday.


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