Players take a risk with Pulitzer prize winner

John Schofied and Peter Lerpiniere going through their lines at Hugos
John Schofied and Peter Lerpiniere going through their lines at Hugos

Never ones to shy away from a challenge or pause for a breath Duns Players are back on stage again next week with ‘Glengarry Glenross’.

The Pulitzer prize winning play penned by David Mamet isn’t for the easily offended.

It doesn’t shy away from confrontation or coarse language but it was its boldness that appealed to the Players who have stamped their mark on the likes of ‘Calendar Girls’ and ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ over the past year.

The mantle of guiding the cast through Mamet’s much acclaimed words is being carried by director Helen Forsyth.

Helen only made her directorial debut for the group with ‘Steptoe and Son’ in May but like her fellow Players she’s keen to push the envelope and give audiences something a bit different.

“What I’ve been saying to people is forget all the swearing and come along and enjoy what is an absolutely fantastic script.

“The characters in ‘Glengarry Glenross’ are quite colourful with their language and some are racist but we’re not saying we condone this, rather we’re exposing the fact that this still goes on in some work places.”

The action in ‘Glengarry Glenross’ centres around the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts - from lies and flattery to bribery, threats, intimidation and burglary - to sell undesirable real estate to unwitting prospective buyers.

To ensure his play was authentic as possible Mamet drew on his spell working in a real estate office in Chicago in the 1960s.

And Helen, chief executive of Berwickshire Housing Association, said she was able to use her own experiences in the workplace to help mould her cast which includes ‘Steptoe and Son’s’ John Schofield, ‘Fawlty Towers’ Peter Lerpiniere and ‘Flare Path’s’ Ben Foreman alongside newcomer John McEwan who is making his debut for the Players in the leading role of Ricky Roma.

“I’m not for a minute suggesting that all male work environments are like the real estate office in the play,” Helen continued.

“But I know from my own experiences and from what some of the cast have told me that there are still places where workers will use the f word in every other sentence and there is still a level of macho-ness and one upmanship that still goes on.

“The characters in the play are all determined to get one over on each other and bad language aside it is rather illuminating to see how they react to certain situations.”

Helen admitted that as much as ‘Glengarry Glenross’ was acclaimed, it represented a risky choice for the Players as the Duns audience had last been treated to the inoffensive British comedy of ‘Steptoe’ and ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and the all singing all dancing ‘Grease’.

“I know we’re not likely to get the same people coming along who were in the audience for ‘Grease’ but we’re a group who always like to challenge ourselves.

“We’re not wanting to alienate anyone we just want to spread our wings a bit.

“That said on telling a few people that it’s probably not their kind of show I’ve had replies of ‘I’m a big girl Helen I’ll make my own mind up!’”

‘Glengarry Glenross’ hectic rehearsal schedule has included an interesting practice in front of diners at Hugo’s which generated quite a response and Helen is hoping there’ll be a few more willing to sample the show when it begins its three night run next Thursday.