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Review of Glengarry Glen Ross at The Playhouse Theatre

L-R Christian Slater (RIcky Roma) & Kris Marshall (John Williamson) - Glengarry Glen Ross at The Playhouse (c) Marc Brenner
L-R Christian Slater (RIcky Roma) & Kris Marshall (John Williamson) – Glengarry Glen Ross at The Playhouse (c) Marc Brenner

The sharp-tongued salesmen of David Mamet’s 1983 work are revived at the Playhouse, starring Christian Slater as the nihilistic top dog of the office, Roma.

Set within a Chinese restaurant and the burgled real estate office, the ominous, vacuous 80s staging (designed by Chiara Stephenson) is the perfect backdrop to watch these men undo themselves over a competition nobody can ultimately win.

Everyone is just trying to get ahead; the game is simple but circular. The old hands struggle with irrelevance, stuck with dud leads. With a Cadillac for the winner, and firing for the loser, the stakes are high enough to justify doing whatever is necessary for victory. The increasingly aggressive atmosphere leads to mistakes being made.

While Christian Slater is no doubt the standout as the ruthless Roma, has-been Levene (Stanley Townsend) and impotent office manager Williamson (Kris Marshall) are clear highlights. Scenes between Slater and Townsend are a particular delight. Swear words take on new life in Mamet’s work, every string of seemingly vacuous talking contains within it double and triple meanings – ‘plays’ and ‘shots’ designed to deceive clueless buyers out of money they don’t have, in the pursuit of capital gain for The Man. A system that benefits none of them, the players move along on their strings, and we can’t help but feel sorry for them.

Sam Yates has done a largely excellent job with the direction of this work, however, the first half feels a little too static for the sizzling quality of the dialogue, with hard pauses between scenes interrupting the otherwise gliding flow. On my viewing, Mark Carlisle stepped in to replace Glenister as the scheming Moss and seems to still be settling into the role – his opening scene feeling a little insecure – though he shines later in cock-fighting with his fellow cast.

Between the beautifully sinister set and a stellar cast all round, Mamet’s play is here rendered with all the dynamism and subtlety the language demands. Each phrase – torrents of swear words included – are imbued with all the pain and hopelessness of a system, and a business, designed to break the human spirit in the pursuit of greed.

4 stars

Review by Christina Carè Calgaro

Lies. Greed. Corruption. It’s business as usual.
Set in an office of cut-throat Chicago salesmen. Pitched in a high-stakes competition against each other, four increasingly desperate employees will do anything, legal or otherwise, to sell the most real estate. As time and luck start to run out, the mantra is simple: close the deal and you’ve won a Cadillac; blow the lead and you’re f****d.

CAST: Christian Slater returns to the West End as smooth talking sales shark Ricky Roma, in David Mamet’s cult classic Glengarry Glen Ross. Alongside A Killer Sales Team: Robert Glenister as Dave Moss, Kris Marshall as John Williamson, Stanley Townsend as Shelley ‘The Machine’ Levene and Don Warrington as George Aaronow.

CREATIVES:
Sam Yates – Director
Richard Howell – Lighting Designer
Chiara Stephenson – Designer

Glengarry Glen Ross
By David Mamet
Directed by Sam Yates
Playhouse Theatre
26 OCTOBER 2017 – 3 FEBRUARY 2018

Author

  • Christina Carè

    'Christina is just another Aussie in London, writing about the arts and signing up for all the weird performance productions the city has to offer. She is Content Editor at Spotlight and tweets from @christinacare.'

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