Review Roundup: Did the West End Revival of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS Win with Critics?
David Mamet's trailblazing modern classic Glengarry Glen Ross, directed by Sam Yates, runs at the Playhouse Theatre in London's West End from 26 October to 3 February 2018 for a strictly limited 14-week season. The production stars Christian Slater, Robert Glenister, KriS Marshall, Stanley Townsend and Don Warrington. Let's see what the critics had to say!
At a time of fierce debate about the American Dream and what it represents, Glengarry Glen Ross is a lacerating satire for modern society, highlighting how economic austerity can affect the morality and greed of individuals under financial pressure.
Lies. Greed. Corruption. It's business as usual. Set in an office of cut-throat Chicago salesmen. Pitched in a high-stakes competition against each other, four increasingly desperate employees will do anything, legal or otherwise, to sell the most real estate. As time and luck start to run out, the mantra is simple: close the deal and you've won a Cadillac; blow the lead and you're f****d.
The play's sensational world premiere at the National Theatre in 1983 earned it the Olivier Award for Best Play, whilst its 1984 Broadway premiere garnered multiple Tony Award nominations and just a year later, it won the Pulitzer Award for Drama. In 1992 the play was adapted by Mamet into an Academy Award-nominated film.
Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage: This production, directed by rising star Sam Yates, doesn't dig very deep. It seems so in love with David Mamet's words, with the way they ebb and flow that it skates along the surface of them, losing their passionate meaning. When salesman Shelly pleads with office manager John to give him a break and is greeted with a brusque "F**k You", it should count for something. It is the harsh underside of the free market expressed in two phrases. Yet here in Townsend's oddly one-note performance it passes for nothing except a quick laugh.
Michael Billington, The Guardian: Slater, seen in London in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Swimming With Sharks, has exactly the measure of Roma. He hooks his client with a fake confidentiality yet in the office turns into a camel-coated diva with an unshakeable ego and a visible contempt for the desiccated desk wallah. Stanley Townsend matches him blow for blow as the over-the-hill Levene: it is a pleasure to see the twinkly-eyed Townsend springing around on the balls of his feet like a rejuvenated pugilist once he thinks he has landed a juicy contract.
Natasha Tripney, The Stage: The cast quickly gets to grips with Mamet's choppy tectonic dialogue. Yates has assembled quite a team here. Christian Slater plays the vulpine Ricky Roma with a razor wire smile. He's a weapon on legs, all tongue and teeth, with a slightly hollow quality that makes him all the more dangerous - though there's little sense of any underlying insecurity to him.
Ann Treneman, The Times: It's like watching a Monopoly-themed stag do. The play, which won the Pulitzer in 1984, retains a racist tinge, with references to Indians (not the Native American kind) and Chinese and there's plenty of casual misogyny too. It's very much of its time. Yet the language here is the action - bombastic, desperate, agile, furious - and it's enlivening, if a bit raw, to see it done so well.
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: The result is a vision of toxic masculinity, heartless greed and the way both these things seem to flourish in the marketplace. For the dazzlingly fraudulent Ricky Roma, you are what you sell, and Christian Slater does a fine job of showing how well slick talk can mask lies and viciousness.
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: What's missing, at least initially and a touch too glaringly, from Yates's production is a palpable sense of the clock ticking - a stomach-churning countdown to personal catastrophe. Those who pull the strings, agency owners Mitch and Murray (never seen), have concocted a brutal incentive scheme: the salesman who closes the most deals and gets on top of "the board" (a blackboard tally of winners and losers) will win a Cadillac; the two at the bottom get kicked out.
Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly: Often, Sam Yates' production merely lacks the bite to make a firm statement, relying too heavily on moral gray areas to lend the events of the play any real weight. On a nearly daily basis, the world provides us with ample evidence of the consequences of treating capitalism as entertainment in the form of unchecked reality show competition. Given that, it feels increasingly less provocative for a play to merely point that out and end there. Undoubtedly, in 1984, Glengarry Glen Ross was a shocking and unflinching look at a world only just being defined - nowadays, it feels like a rather toothless depiction of business as usual.