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Glengarry Glen Ross: Christian Slater rises high in conman drama

| Theatre | 30/11/2017

glengarry-glen-ross-christian-slater
Rating:

David Mamet’s new Playhouse Theatre revival is a solid production that provides a tense insight into the corrupt networks of American capitalism.  The revival of Glengarry Glen Ross – 34 years after its premiere – maintains good chemistry between a strong cast and packs plenty of laughs throughout.

It has to be noted that on the night I attended the production, Robert Glenister – who plays Dave Moss – became unwell during the performance and was replaced by understudy Mark Carlisle.  This understandably created a strange atmosphere, with Carlisle performing manfully even though relying on a script, while the other cast members rallied round.  Thankfully, Robert has made a full recovery and rejoined the cast for future performances.

© Mark Brenner

© Mark Brenner

The play is formed of a series of small and brief vignettes – simplicity at its best – centred on a group of testosterone fuelled real-estate agents looking to make a quick buck or face the chop.

Part one, which succinctly sets up the story, opens with veteran salesman Shelly Levene (Stanley Townsend) trying to use all the charm he can muster to persuade impassive office clerk John (Kris Marshall) to give him some hot leads.  We then move swiftly to Mark (Carlisle) trying to recruit fellow old-timer George (Don Warrington) to break into the office and steal the hot leads.

The final vignette of the first part is the high point as smooth-talking Ricky Roma (Christian Slater) launches a ruthless pitch on an unsuspecting stranger.  The second half sees the men reeling from the office break-in and is as toxic as poison can be; it’s all about self-interest – there’s no ‘I’ in team but there is one in victory, which is exactly what each man strives for.

Kris Marshall is a somewhat dull presence onstage, while Christian Slater provides the production with its powerhouse presence.  We have to take our hats off to Mark Carlisle’s performance in the circumstances, and Don Warrington provides plenty of laughs as he tries to navigate through the testing waters of the real estate world.  Stanley Townsend experiences an emotional rollercoaster that is equally as entertaining as it is unnerving, as his life unravels in front of his very eyes.

Overall, the production is a little clinical, but for all the adversity the cast experienced on the night, they have to be applauded for pulling together and going on with the show: a tense, entertaining and accurate period production that is certainly worth a watch.

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