The independent London newspaper

Review: Glengarry Glen Ross, at Playhouse Theatre

Hollywood star Christian Slater turns on the charm in story of competing real estate salesmen that dissects the American Dream

17 November, 2017 — By Catherine Usher

Oliver Ryan as Baylen and Christian Slater as Ricky Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross. Photo: Marc Brenner

INTRODUCING David Mamet’s 1983 play to a new generation, this production starring Christian Slater as Ricky Roma is a lively, fast-paced delight, which brings the cut-throat, aggressive world of American real estate to life in just four dialogue-packed scenes.

Frequently funny (and sweary), the four salesmen are pushed to the edge as they compete to top their sales chart.

What’s striking is just how much their feelings of power and masculinity hinge so precariously on their professional success. They puff out their chests with pride during the highs then visibly shrink with shame at the crashing lows.

Daniel Ryan and Christian Slater in Glengarry Glen Ross. Photo Tristram Kenton

Although very different in character and temperament, all the men at the company share a fairly malleable approach to morals – pressured as they are by the competitive nature of their jobs.

As the unprincipled manager John Williamson, Kris Marshall shows he can do much more than gawky gag man, looming large over his colleagues menacingly.

But Slater is a Hollywood star and refuses to spend a second in the shadows, infusing Roma with wit, charisma and a great deal of showmanship. Charm must be a challenging quality to act, but Slater has it in abundance – his smooth-talking yet animated sales pitch is unnervingly convincing.

Don Warrington as George Aaronow in Glengarry Glen Ross. Photo: Marc Brenner

The seven-strong cast is wonderful without exception, but Stanley Townsend is particularly impressive as the desperate Shelley Levene, whose naturally gregarious personality is frequently crushed by the countless obstacles he faces.

Ultimately this is a show with universal appeal (unless you have an aversion to profanity) and is liable to attract infrequent theatre-goers, who would usually be found reclining in a cinema rather than perched in the stalls. It dissects rather than glorifies the competitive American Dream of the 1980s, analysing themes of ambition, motivation, antagonism, corruption, deceit and despair.

Obviously, an iconic play such as this is an almost guaranteed crowd-pleaser, but this slick production showcases Mamet’s work to perfection, enhanced by incredibly powerful performances all round.

0844 871 7631


Share this story

Post a comment