Glengarry Glenn Ross

Nearly a quarter of a century after it premiered at the National Theatre in London, David Mamet's Glengarry Glenn Ross remains razor sharp with tight, inventive dialogue, dissecting the ruthless heart of capitalism with incisive fervor.

Currently running at the Apollo Theatre in London, director James Macdonald's production is in the audience's face from the start, pushing the three act one Chinese restaurant dialogues to the very front of the stage, providing no escape from Mamet's staccato bursts of raw greed and invective.

Jonathan Pryce as Shelly Levene
Jonathan Pryce as Shelly Levene
Photo: Johan Persson
Like his counterpart, Willie Loman, in Death of a Salesman, Jonathan Pryce's Shelly Levene is a man at the end of his rope, his vocation—selling raw home sites—ready to pass him by. Pryce inhabits Shelly's instinctive self-interest with a vengence: pleading, prodding, and prevaricating to save his skin as the moment demands.

Aidan Gillen as Shelly's protege, Richard Roma, the hottest salesman on the staff, sizzles with self-confidence and linguistic legerdemain, as he fights to win the Cadillac that goes to the top sales dog.

(Left to right) Jonathan Pryce as Shelly Leven and Aidan Gillen as Richard Roma
(L to R) Jonathan Pryce as Shelly Levene
and Aidan Gillen as Richard Roma
Photo: Johan Persson
Shelly and Richard, along with the rest of the salesmen, are up against John Williamson, the sales manager who divvies out the leads. Surrounded by volatile and profane characters, Peter McDonald's cold and calculating John is the company anchor, with a revealing effect on the others who take his close to the chest reserve for judgement and end up spilling their guts.

The economy and character-driven focus of director James McDonald's production clarifies why this play must be considered Mamet's best: it is a perfect blend of form and content; the succinct, tell-tale rhythms of the dialogue perfectly reflected in the lean and efficiently-plotted arc.

In less than an hour and 45 minutes, including intermission, Mamet tells you everything you need to know about the unrelenting forces defining life in the late Twentieth Century in Chicago, yet the plot is filled with subterfuge, surprising us in ways that in retrospect we are forced to admire.

Paul Freeman's George Aaronow who, like Shelly, has seen his better days, appears to be such an obvious weak link in the honor system among these thieves, and yet ... we should have seen the feign and the left hook coming! And where would Mamet's trademark machismo be, in the form of Matthew Marsh's seething Dave Moss, if it weren't for Tom Smith's henpecked James Lingk. Finally, lurking in the background, is the relentless law, a pugnacious Shane Attwooll as Baylen.

Glengarry Glen Ross runs through January 12th, 2008. 011-44-0844-412-4658 or at

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