One of the world’s best plays, in the opinion of the writer, is coming to the end of its London production run on February 3 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue.
Glengarry Glen Ross is a politically-incorrect, scabrous, profane and wickedly funny 1983 satire from David Mamet on what a nightmare the American Dream really is and features four real estate salesmen in Chicago who are incentivised by a scheme where the top performer gets a Cadillac and the bottom one gets fired. Desperate to keep their jobs they lie, cheat, steal and corrupt – “All in a days work” and “Business as usual”, as the publicity notes. The title comes from two of the land packages offered by their firm, Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms.
The much-garlanded play was made into a successful film with an ensemble cast in 1992 and the four salesmen were Al Pacino as the silky smooth Ricky Roma, the late, great Jack Lemmon giving the dramatic performance of his life as once-hot operator Shelly “The Machine” Levene, Ed Harris as the volatile Dave Moss and Alan Arkin as the decent but failing George Aaronow.Kevin Spacey did a memorable job as the corruptible office manager, John Williamson, and a telling cameo role that was written for him (not featured in the play) went to Alec Baldwin as the abusive and nasty Blake, sent by the firm’s owners, Mitch and Murray to break the news of the new, motivating sales contest.
For the enjoyable production at the Playhouse Ricky Roma is played by a smooth Christian Slater, Shelly Levene by an entertainingly bragging Stanley Townsend, George Aaronow by a decent Don Warrington and Dave Moss by a suitably furious Robert Glenister, now recovered from his being taken ill on stage last November and drawing an enthusiastic round of applause for his gloriously effing exit. Kriss Marshall got the job of ably following the talented Kevin Spacey as the office manager who, like Spacey, has to endure a potty-mouthed rant from the Roma character, who has lost a valuable sale over Williamson’s well-meaning mistake with his client, and who calls him, among other things, a “fairy” causing some knowing chuckles in the audience.
Go see, and enjoy both the film and the play.