Æ Review – Glengarry Glen Ross

Nov 15 2010 | By More

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Glengarry Glen Ross Poster

Adam House Theatre

By Thom Dibdin

Chunky and muscular, David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross brings out the naturally bilious language and atavistic tendencies of hard working men on the front-line of American dream at the end of the 20th Century.

This is the world of real-estate salesmen. A pack of beings whose own interests always come first, followed by – but always superior to – those of the group. The clients, those buying plots of as-yet unexploited land, are no more than prey, to be cajoled and corralled into a purchase.

Debutante director Yvonne Paterson begins to find the true viciousness of this world, although her cast are too timid and have not quite got the measure of their lines to bring the depths of the piece to the stage.

The production rather falters into its opening scenes: a trio of dialogues set in the local Chines restaurant where the four salesmen and their office-manager, Williamson, are hanging out after a hard day working their marks.

The basic characters are there: James Lavery creates the whining insecurity of one-time top dog Shelley Levene, trying to wheedle some decent leads out of Mike Gillan’s supercilious John Williamson. Yet Lavery seems to be too concerned about remembering the next line – to the point where you are almost willing him on, like an athlete straining for the finishing line.

Greg Holstead as the arrogant pushy Moss, not top dog yet and not quite a contender even, and Rod Black as the terminally apologetic Aaronow begin to get to the nub of the piece. Yet still there is not enough of a natural flow to the dialogue, nor does the innate comedy of the lines ever begin to show.

Most telling, Mamet’s controversial lines about selling to those of an Indian or Pakistani background, come over as being casually racist, in a most uncomfortable way.

It takes Harry Moore as Ricky Roma, the leading salesman in the office, to begin to nail the piece. As he works away on Dave McFarline’s mousey
potential mark, Lingk, the grandiose storytelling and careful construction of a non-existent relationship between salesman and purchaser, begins to come through.

The second half which settles back into the sales office, which has just been robbed, begins to grab the depths not previously realised. Although it is still too loose and lacks the strength to find the resonances with what had gone before.

Scott Glynn looms large and bulldog sharp as Detective Baylen, in the office to investigate the break-in, but while the production begins to get to grips with a magnificent script, it doesn’t do it the service it deserves.

Run ended November 10

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