This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub
David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is a terrific play, stuffed full of authentic dialogue, brimming with testosterone, and – like all great twentieth century transatlantic drama from O’Neill to Labute – saying something really quite profound about the American Dream. It effortlessly draws one into the dog eat dog world of a Chicago real estate agency, where four sleazy salesmen desperately compete not to lose their jobs and ‘good leads’ are like gold dust, and undertakes a compelling search for the soul of neoliberal capitalism, boasting a set of gloriously meaty roles as it does so. Or it should do, at any rate.
Roger Kay’s production at the swelteringly stuffy Rialto Theatre is an uneven hour and three quarters, which leaves one slightly quizzical as to how this same production from Pretty Villain could have been acclaimed at last year’s festival. There are a few decent performances – and a few not so decent ones – and some laudable attempts at evoking the cut-throat male-dominated atmosphere of the real estate world, but any lasting impact comes from Mamet’s Tony Award-winning writing, and not the cast and crew.
Steve Chusak does well as Roma, the slimy flash Harry at the top of the sales leaderboard, as do Tom Dussek as the scheming Moss and Duncan Henderson as the stressed-out office manager Williamson. John Tolputt certainly looks the part as the ‘The Machine’ Levene, the shambling, stammering Willy Loman of the piece, but his accent is essentially non-existent and there’s only so far a portrayal of a desperate, anachronistic Chicago salesman can take you when ‘ass’ is pronounced ‘arse’ and ‘f*cking’ is classily enunciated in clipped RP.
Kay’s staging – three spotlighted tables for the three conversations that make up the first act, then a sparsely furnished office for the second – nicely highlights the words and not the action, and the power of Mamet’s play manages to shine through regardless of a few sketchy performances. In truth though, this is far from the impactful drama it could, and should, be.