Glengarry Glen Ross - Milton Keynes Theatre (atgtickets.com)
The American Dream is a fine thing: a freedom that offers the opportunity for prosperity
and success through hard work. But how far would you go to achieve it?
Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama sets out
to answer that question – and  Sam Yates’s
punchy production shows the results are not pretty.




The play is set in the scruffy Chicago office of a real-estate company
where Mitch and Murray, the bosses, have set up a month-long contest for their salesmen.
The best will get a Cadillac; the two worst performers will be fired. And the
end of the month is looming…



For some it’s a chance to show unequivocally who’s top dog; for
some it’s a chance to show they’ve still got the magic; for some it represents
the end of a career that’s seen them beaten too many times.  As the clock ticks inexorably down
desperation sets in,
insecurities are revealed and savagery ensues. The number of knives in the back
make Julius Caesar look like a laughing party.



Mamet captures the sweary locker-room machismo of sales teams
perfectly. When first produced the play was largely an elegiac bookend to
Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman but possibly the play has even more
relevance today’s world of corporate steamrolling of the soul, the gig economy and
money pimping. How well we understand this now. Compassion, team spirit,
friendship and even basic humanity are sacrificed for the mighty dollar.



The
play uses the first act to set up the theft of the Glengarry leads that drives
the action. The scene then shifts from a Chinese restaurant to the salesmen’s
office. It’s worth mentioning here that Chiara Stephenson’s office set makes
the piece – you can almost smell the fug of cigarette smoke and nervous BO.



Sam
Yates’s direction brings out accomplished performances all round: Nigel Harman
is smooth and calculating as ace salesman Ricky Roma, and his interactions with
his client
James Lingk (James Staddon) combine snake-like hypnotic power with insouciant swagger.  Mark Benton as Shelly ‘The Machine’ Levine, is
a model of decline and panic. His mask of increasingly forced bonhomie conceals
an existential anxiety that his powers are on the wane.




Denis
Conway gives us a perpetually angry Moss, whose invective is plentiful rather
than inventive. Wil Johnson’s George Aaronow is a great comic foil for Moss. Never was there a better
example of a man in the wrong job – slow on the uptake, credulous and timid.
Like so many in that career but without the essential carapace of confidence.

Mamet’s
quality as a writer shines through. Though billed as comedy, it could equally
be a tragedy. It’s a night that for every laugh, there’s a shudder, too.

 

Glengarry
Glen Ross is at Milton Keynes Theatre from Monday April 1 to Saturday April 6