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Glengarry Glen Ross

David Mamet
Ambassador Theatre Group, Act Productions, Glass Half Full Productions and Rupert Gavin
Richmond Theatre
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They can certainly talk in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glenn Ross. And it’s always talk with a purpose. Even when they are just sitting in a restaurant, there is a purpose. And that purpose is to sell something.

This often funny play about a group of salesmen pitched against each other to sell useless plots of land is a savage depiction of the way work controlled by others shapes the way we think, talk and live.

Even the salesman Ricky Roma’s amiable reflections on life to a stranger, James Lingt (James Staddon), sitting nearby in a restaurant suddenly becomes a sales pitch.

They have learned their trade well. They had to, because if they don’t succeed, they are out of a job. That makes most of them anxious and at times desperate. And to make success worth more than just keeping the job, there’s a car for the man who sells the most real estate.

They are all men among men. Their language is tough, full of expletives dotted with sexism and racism.

But there is a poetic rhythm and sound to the language of these salesmen, these verbal dancers searching to clinch a deal.

This production, which is performed by a new cast after its West End run, is always watchable. In particular, Nigel Harman gives the character of Roma a mercenary charm and confidence.

Sam Yates’s tight direction and Chiara Stephenson’s striking set display the vigour of Mamet’s language and, after the first slightly underpowered thirty minutes, also the physicality of these men.

Mamet comments, “economic life in America is a lottery. Everyone’s got an equal chance but only one guy is going to get to the top. ‘The more I have the less you have.’ So one can only succeed at the cost of the failure of another.”

That’s capitalism for you.

Keith Mckenna