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Review Round-Ups

Did critics think Glengarry Glen Ross was a big deal?

The show opened in the West End last week

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Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"This production, directed by rising star Sam Yates, doesn't dig very deep. It seems so in love with David Mamet's words, with the way they ebb and flow that it skates along the surface of them, losing their passionate meaning. When salesman Shelly pleads with office manager John to give him a break and is greeted with a brusque "F**k You", it should count for something. It is the harsh underside of the free market expressed in two phrases. Yet here in Townsend's oddly one-note performance it passes for nothing except a quick laugh."

"As Roma, the part Al Pacino played in the 1992 film, Slater has a lot of energy but he never seems to believe what he says. Roma should hold the audience, like his clients, in the palm of his seductive hand; Slater keeps it at bay with a breezy smile. The best performance comes from Robert Glenister who endows the floundering Moss with righteous fury and a pent-up rage. Don Warrington is quietly effective as the washed up George."

"But in the end, this is a lively but overly polite version of a great American play that pays it respect, without ever illuminating its dark and passionate heart."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"Slater, seen in London in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Swimming With Sharks, 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 as the over-the-hill Levene: it is a pleasure to see the twinkly-eyed Townsend springing around on the balls of his feet like a rejuvenated pugilist once he thinks he has landed a juicy contract.

The scene where Robert Glenister's manipulative Moss tries to cajole Don Warrington's apprehensive Aaronow into plundering the office leads also shows Mamet's mastery of language as a form of camouflage. "I mean are you actually talking about this?" asks Aaronow of the projected heist, to which Moss cagily replies: "We're just speaking about it." Kris Marshall, barely recognisable as the flat-haired, bespectacled manager, also exudes the caution of a man who has never been exposed to the dubious artistry of salesmanship.

Natasha Tripney, The Stage


"Sam Yates' polished production takes a while to find its feet. The opening duologues are a bit stiff, but they're necessary building blocks for what's to come as a robbery at the office piles the pressure on these already desperate men."

"The cast quickly gets to grips with Mamet's choppy tectonic dialogue. Yates has assembled quite a team here. Christian Slater plays the vulpine Ricky Roma with a razor wire smile. He's a weapon on legs, all tongue and teeth, with a slightly hollow quality that makes him all the more dangerous – though there's little sense of any underlying insecurity to him."

"Chiara Stephenson's set is striking and rich in detail, impressively transforming from a red lantern-bedecked Chinese restaurant complete with fish-tank to a convincingly grim sales office, recently ransacked and harshly lit, with uneven ceiling tiles and an ashtray-and-coffeepot aesthetic."

Ann Treneman, The Times


"It's like watching a Monopoly-themed stag do. The play, which won the Pulitzer in 1984, retains a racist tinge, with references to Indians (not the Native American kind) and Chinese and there's plenty of casual misogyny too. 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. The set, by Chiara Stephenson, captures those health-and-safety nightmare offices perfectly, right down to the stained ceiling tiles."

"'We are members of a dying breed!' shouts Ricky Roma. But, actually, they were the prototype for Wall Street's killer traders. These men are the real roots of the sub-prime boom. "I've got to get on that f*****g board!" shouts Shelley Levene. This really is the play that made asterisks what they are today."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard


"Mamet depicts a group of men nostalgic for a golden age of salesmanship when the job was synonymous with youth and virility. Those glory days never in fact existed, and instead, we're left with an impression of small men struggling beneath the weight of their delusions."

"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."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"What's missing, at least initially and a touch too glaringly, from Yates's production is a palpable sense of the clock ticking – a stomach-churning countdown to personal catastrophe. Those who pull the strings, agency owners Mitch and Murray (never seen), have concocted a brutal incentive scheme: the salesman who closes the most deals and gets on top of "the board" (a blackboard tally of winners and losers) will win a Cadillac; the two at the bottom get kicked out."

"When we see Stanley Townsend's old-timer Shelly Levene in the first of three establishing scenes in a Chinese restaurant begging and cajoling his young superior – the wintry Williamson – for the better 'leads' that will improve his chances on the doorstep – we should feel that he is at last-chance saloon."

Glengarry Glen Ross runs at Playhouse Theatre 3 February 2018.

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