By Scott Brown
Updated May 16, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

David Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize winner is basically a big pungent plug of tobacco for actors to work around their mouths. It’s a snapshot of mangy Chicago real estate jackals on the make, and its metabolism is so fast, its sell so relentless, you’ll nearly miss the fact that the five principals inhabit five slightly different plays: All play separate cover versions of that now-familiar Mamet jazz. Alan Alda, as lower-than-Loman loser Shelly ”The Machine” Levene, depletes himself visibly as a man pitching the end of his energies as a fresh start. And Liev Schreiber has the whole theater between thumb and forefinger as alpha-shark Ricky Roma. But they, along with cohorts Jeffrey Tambor, Gordon Clapp, and Frederick Weller (out of his league), never really gel as an ensemble. Perhaps the lack of communication suits a play where predators talk and pigeons (like Tom Wopat’s exquisitely pathetic Lingk) listen. B

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