WhatsOnStage Logo

Glengarry Glen Ross (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
WhatsOnStage logo
David Mamet's excellent play Glengarry Glen Ross was memorably made into into a film in 1992 staring Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin and Ed Harris. The performances are so wonderful that you cannot help comparing them to any subsequent stage production, as to me and many other cinemagoers, Lemmon is the down at heel salesman, Shelley "the machine" Levene.

It's a credit then to the Library Theatre's artistic director Chris Honer that he manages to coaxe memorable turns from his cast, which at the same time, do not blur into their movie incarnations. Glengarry Glen Ross follows a group of salesman who 'play' and manipulate not only their prospective customers, but also each other.

We watch in awe as Levene (David Fleeshman) attempts to grab one more moment of success, desperate for a great lead, teeth clenched in anticipation in this machismo filled dead end world of real estate sales. Dave Moss (John McAndrew) and Richard Roma (Richard Dormer) fill the air with expletives, as they too seek that golden lead which will not only secure their job, but also line their pockets.

With their cold-hearted and jaded boss John Williamson (Paul Barnhill) presiding over the proceeedings, success seems unlikely. Enter James Lingk (Leigh Symonds) an unassuming and naive man - shark bait for these ruthless men in search of a 'sit', followed by a closed deal.

Honer has managed to capture the claustrophobia of Mamet's brilliant black comedy and also retain an air of poignancy as each man falls at the mercy of another. He is aided by Judith Croft's excellent set design which alternates from a Chinese Restaurant  (the setting for the deals) and the burgled, messy work environment where the drama ratchets up to fourth gear in Act Two.  

Of the performers, Fleeshman evokes sympathy as the veteran with nothing more to give, Barnhill acts as a reminder that this is a broken and spent man and James Quinn's George Aaronow is brilliantly portrayed as his anger is mainly silent. Dormer and McAndrew embrace Mamet's dialogue with relish and the play bursts into life whenever they are on stage.

The first act is slower paced than the second but this does lead you into the narrative with all of its twists and turns which sees the mens' lives spiral out of control following the interval. It could do with being a tad tighter though and minor flaws such as a lack of overlapping dialogue does not do Mamet complete justice.

But, if you have not seen the recent West End revival with Jonathan Pryce or the movie version, Honer's take on these 'lambs to the slaughter' is brilliantly drawn. But even for a third-timer like me, there is much to savour in this blistering boiler room of a play. 


Tagged in this Story