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Glengarry Glen Ross, Playhouse Theatre, review: ‘Electric chemistry between an impressively dynamic cast’

PUBLISHED: 17:15 20 November 2017

Christian Slater in Glengarry Glen Ross. Picture: Marc Brenner

Christian Slater in Glengarry Glen Ross. Picture: Marc Brenner

Archant

Whilst this is not a play loaded with a huge depth, it successfully captures a Machiavellian culture and as a piece of thumpingly entertaining satire, offers a sound, sound deal

It is a little disappointing that the world depicted by David Mamet in his lauded Pulitzer Prize-winning Glengarry Glen Ross is so recognisable to us in 2017 despite its 1980s roots. Part of this is down to the unnerving, perpetual viciousness of the sales trade, which is well showcased in Sam Yates’s breezy, effervescent production.

He is ably assisted by a starry, attention-grabbing cast, including Christian Slater in the iconic role of Ricky Roma: the hot shot salesman cleaning up through whip smart patter and a cool, charisma. He vies against various competitors to be top of the heap, including ageing Shelley Levine (Stanley Townsend) who represents the old guard; a charmer looking to recapture past glories and show relevance in the modern day. Disgruntled dealer Dave Moss (Robert Glenister), however, is a marginalised colleague; floundering in his attempts to match Roma’s impressive figures. With irrelevance beating at his door, he seeks to usurp the pecking order through dirty tactics. He needs help. An accomplice, if you will. This is where his disillusioned and seasoned co-worker George (Don Warrington) comes in.

The first act passes in the blink of an eye with three scenes centring on different two-character exchanges in a dimly lit bar. They are a little inconsistent in terms of efficacy and the scene changes are somewhat cumbersome.

But when the sparks start to fly in the second half, there’s an escalation of tension and a rapid unravelling of professional decorum, Named after the dodgy property they’re trying to offload, Glengarry Glen Ross picks up speed into a rollicking ride.

With the metaphorical blood on the sales floor and barbed quips flying, there’s an electric chemistry between an impressively dynamic cast. Townsend, in particular, prompts much mirth and chuckles as the wily Levine. Kris Marshall’s restraint as office manager John Williamson is striking and Slater’s allure is effortless.

Whilst this is not a play loaded with a huge depth, it successfully captures a Machiavellian culture and as a piece of thumpingly entertaining satire, offers a sound, sound deal.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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