Glengarry Glen Ross |The Gate
Star Rating: 4/5
Title: Glengarry Glen Ross
Venue: The Gate
Writer: David Mamet
Director: Doug Hughes
Cast: Patrick Joseph Byrnes, Denis Conway, John Cronin, Peter Hanly, Barry McGovern, Owen Roe, Reg Rogers.
Review by Lauren O'Toole
Anyone familiar with the work of American playwright David Mamet will be unsurprised to learn that Glengarry Glen Ross begins with an unyielding onslaught of words that is almost dizzying in its delivery by the incomparable Owen Roe. In a Chinese restaurant, a scarlet red set by Neil Patel that is as brash as the language it accommodates, property salesman Shelley "The Machine" Levene (Roe) pulls out all the linguistic stops to convince office manager John Williamson to help him out with some good leads on clients. It quickly becomes apparent from Levene's agitated stance and glistening brow that he's struggling to keep up with his colleagues. Equally, it's crystal clear from Willliamson's indifferent countenance that Levene is unlikely to be rescued from the mire any time soon.
In a business where your fall from grace could be just around the corner, Levene isn't alone in his anxiety, and in the same Chinese restaurant we are introduced to Moss and Aaronow - two men who are also finding it difficult to match the size of their success with that of their mouthes. In his desperation Moss attempts to coerce Aaronow into a scheme that will help them knock top dog Ricky Roma off his pedestal. Blindsided by the fast-paced exchange, Aaronow agrees to act as sidekick in Moss's proposed break-in of the office - convinced not only by his signature salesman charisma, but also by the possibility of sharing in some prime leads.
Act two is post-robbery and the turmoil doesn't stop with the overturned paperwork and busted windows, as Ricky Roma, played by Reg Rogers, storms through the office whipping up a frenzied atmosphere with the same fluency as he whips up sales. Roma's contempt is not reserved solely for the office manager (John Cronin), who he repeatedly and unabashedly insults, but is extended to his fellow salesmen, the investigating police and even, perhaps especially, his clients. Despite all logic pointing towards Roma being a soulless leech, its nigh-on impossible to not be completely won over by Rogers' depiction of him - his interactions with a potential buyer (Peter Hanly) particularly stand out moments. With his masterful approach to Mamet's tongue-twisting speeches and accompanying swagger, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would argue with the fact that Rogers was born to play this part. As the police call the men in for question, the sales team alternate between conflict and support, the highs and lows of their rocky loyalties, in addition to the highs and lows of deals lost and won, maintaining the momentum of the play.
Although some of the cast fail to keep up with the quick-paced language, the two-hander between McGovern and Conway lacking the chemistry and spark that abounds elsewhere, the play is next to flawless. Combining the magic of Mamet with a powerhouse cast is a recipe for success - this is probably the only play about desperation, money and property that you'll walk out of this year with a spring in your step.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Thursday 31st May 2012 | Theatre
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