#Tweetingit – 4*A heavyweight cast + a gifted playwright = an engrossing drama in the most picturesque of London theatres. But time’s running out to get tickets so be quick! Don’t miss it!
It is undoubtedly, a rare treat to see a play from the pen of David Mamet, one of the greatest writers of his generation. Mamet has mastered every facet of the profession including author, playwright and screenwriter. His work on the big screen is best known with the Verdict, Hoffa and the Untouchables most readily brought to mind. Add to that list Glengarry Glen Ross, a 1992 film adaptation of his own Pulitzer Prize winning play. The white stone exterior of the Playhouse Theatre soon gives way to the opulent beauty of its interior. We took our seats in the back row of the stalls and enjoyed perfect sightlines of the stage.
The play tells of four real estate salesmen working for Premiere Properties in New York. They each rely on leads to generate sales which are supplied by John Williamson, the office manager. It is generally accepted these leads are hit and miss, so provoke vicious competition between the salesmen. Williamson would on the face of it, appear to hold all the aces, particularly leads to the lucrative Glengarry and Glen Ross Developments. But the office manager is enthralled by the firm’s owners Mitch and Murray, who are covertly pulling the strings. The ABC of selling (‘Always Be Closing’) is the guiding mantra as the salesmen scheme and connive like sharks, ready to pounce.
Shelly ‘the machine’ Levene, once a star performer is in the middle of a slump, with a sick daughter in hospital begins to finesse Williamson for the best leads. Levene is convinced he will get the bullet if he doesn’t start making sales soon. No such worries for the firm’s top salesman Ricky Roma, who waxes lyrical to a gullible customer James Lingk. Meanwhile, Dave Moss and George Aaronow quietly stir the pot, venting their spleen at the treatment metered out by Mitch and Murray. Moss is contemplating revenge and has a plan, but will Aaronow go for it?
Act I begins in the bar with three discreet conversations involving Levene, Williamson, Moss, Aaronow, Roma and Lingk. Then Act I ends after half an hour; just as the story was beginning to gather pace? Act II commenced in the firm’s offices and was an infinitely more satisfying 60 minutes. Whilst it felt harshly edited in places, there was no doubting the quality of writing and powerhouse acting from a superb cast. The abbreviated Act I threw the audience and begged for more time allowing the characters to fully develop. So it felt slightly rushed going into Act II.
Nevertheless, there were performances to savour as they interpreted an intelligent and amusing script. The casting worked like a dream with a Hollywood actor complemented by familiar British TV actors. Here, Christian Slater proved he can act on stage, delivering a confident performance as sharp talking Ricky Roma. Robert Glenister was excellent as the waspish, bitter Dave Moss; while Don Warrington was similarly accomplished as world weary George Aaronow. Kris Marshall locked into the role of John Williamson with a sense of purpose. Daniel Ryan perfectly captured the confused, indecisive James Lingk. But the performance of the night must surely belong to Stanley Townsend as Shelly Levene, who portrayed a damaged character with humour and pathos. Even though the uneven running time needlessly disturbed the story’s momentum, it was a pleasure to watch such talented actors working as an ensemble.
Author: David Mamet
Director: Sam Yates
Producers: Ambassador Theatre Group, Act Productions and Glass Half Full Productions
Booking Link: https://playhouse.londontheatres.co.uk/tickets/
Box Office: 0844 871 7631
Booking until: 1 February 2018
Reviewer: Brian Penn