Glengarry Glen Ross Production Images – Photos by Marc Brenner

Written by David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross opened at the National Theatre in 1983 to critical acclaim going on to win the Olivier award for best play in the same year and the Pulitzer prize for drama in 1984. Following a successful West End revival, Glengarry Glen Ross directed by Sam Yates has commenced a four month tour of the UK.

Based on Mamet’s own experiences, the story tells the events of two days in the lives of four Chicago real estate agents who work for the Mitch & Murray agency. The agency has an incentive scheme; the salesman who makes the most sales and is top of the leader board wins a Cadillac whilst the two salesmen at the bottom of the leader board face dismissal. 

Thus, the viewer is drawn into the cut throat world of 1980s real estate where all that matters is the American dream and making a sale by any means possible which can include lies, flattery, corruption and theft.

The first act is set in a plush Chinese restaurant in Chicago and in a series of three short vignettes the audience is introduced to the characters. I have great admiration for the design of this touring set by Chiara Stephenson, Set Designer. We are transported from the intricately designed Chinese restaurant to the 1980s grimy real estate office in the second act with such wonderful attention to detail.

Shelley “the machine” Levene is an older man who once was the leader of the pack but now appears to be struggling to achieve his set targets. Mark Benton gives an outstanding performance in the role of Shelley, holding the audience in the palm of his hand with every word of his dialogue.

Dave Moss (Denis Conway), a salesman with a lot to say and George Aaronow (Wil Johnson), an aging salesman who lacks confidence have excellent chemistry together. Their scene in the Chinese restaurant was a particular favourite of mine as we witness moments of laughter, confusion and manipulation.

Nigel Harman as Ricky Roma, the office “hot shot”, successful, charming but also dishonest and spiteful, was magnificent in his portrayal of this complicated character. Nigel charmed the audience with his oozing charisma and kept us on the edge of our seat with his frantic desperation to keep his sale.

More strong performances are found from Scott Sparrow (John Williamson), the office manager, James Lingk (James Staddon) a shy middle-aged man who finds himself being manipulated at the hands of Ricky Roma and Zephryn Taitte (Baylen) the policeman that is trying to bring authority and justice to the corrupt office.

With a quick first half, we really see the play pick up its pace in the second act as we head to the real estate office that has just been burgled. The story unfolds as the four men face up to the consequences of their behaviour.

Director Sam Yates’s production reflects the noxious masculinity of this environment, with the use of sales jargon and square suits. It is a perfectly crafted piece of theatre with exceptional performances from all involved. I felt extremely lucky to be witnessing a production of West End quality in Birmingham. Don’t miss out on this slick, charismatic production. Close the deal!

Glengarry Glen Ross runs at the Alexandra Birmingham from the 18th – 22nd February when it continues on its UK tour.


Theatretastic 5/5:

We say: “Glengarry Glen Ross is a perfectly crafted piece of theatre with exceptional performances from all involved. Don’t miss out! Close the deal!”