Lies. Greed. Corruption. David Mamet's acclaimed masterpiece, Glengarry Glen Ross, has officially opened in the West End at the Playhouse Theatre for its first major revival in over a decade.
Starring Christian Slater, Robert Glenister, Kris Marshall, Stanley Townsend and Don Warrington, the play is 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 screwed.
Mamet's ground-breaking modern classic has won every major dramatic award on Broadway and in the West End, including the 1983 Olivier Award for Best Play and the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was later adapted for the 1992 film starring Jack Lemmon and Al Pacino.
But has this new production pleased the critics? We've rounded up the reviews...
The Guardian: ★★★★
But the joy of the play lies in its language, which ricochets off the walls like a ball in a squash court and which is roundly relished in Sam Yates’s production.
Slater...has exactly the measure of Roma. He hooks his client with a fake confidentiality yet in the office turns into a camel-coated diva with an unshakeable ego and a visible contempt for the desiccated desk wallah. Stanley Townsend matches him blow for blow.
Evening Standard: ★★★★
The production comes alive and the actors — including a hangdog Don Warrington and explosive Robert Glenister — savour the rhythms of Mamet’s language.
The result is a vision of toxic masculinity, heartless greed and the way both these things seem to flourish in the marketplace. For the dazzlingly fraudulent Ricky Roma, you are what you sell, and Christian Slater does a fine job of showing how well slick talk can mask lies and viciousness.
The Times: ★★★★
It’s very much of its time. Yet the language here is the action — bombastic, desperate, agile, furious — and it’s enlivening, if a bit raw, to see it done so well.
Sam Yates directs and keeps it sharp and, at one hour and 45 mins including an interval, short. The first act seems a bit jerky but, by the second, everything is motoring as smooth as can be.
Slater’s Roma is a masterclass in masculine awfulness, his face shifting from smarmy, detachment to a searing death stare that practically flays John’s skin from his bones. Veteran Irish actor Townsend is excellent at conveying Shelley’s desperate emotional rollercoaster ride – we root for him, kind of, and he has a light, likeable touch next to the cranky balls of testosterone around him.
A key element of the play is Mamet's very specific patter - the clipped or overlapping speech, the interjections and repetitions that read like music. Yates's ensemble has a firm grasp on it, particularly Slater and Townsend, but impressive too are Robert Glenister's Moss - a restless, expletive-spewing ball of fury - and his tonal opposite, Don Warrington's wretched Aaronow.
Daily Mail: ★★★★
Mr Mamet catches well the unpredictability of the sales world, where one success can re-set your fortune after a run of failures. We are shown selling almost as a precarious vocation, an art form.
Mr Slater is wonderful as silver-tongued, slippery Ricky. Mr Townsend is equally strong as Levene, a man whose last resort is to mention his daughter self-pityingly.
Glengarry Glen Ross is at the Playhouse Theatre until 3rd February 2018, with tickets available HERE.
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