Review: Glengarry Glen Ross at New Theatre

Review By Anja Bless


David Mamet’s most celebrated work, Glengarry Glen Ross is showing at New Theatre and this rendition is true to the cutting, fast paced window into real estate in the 80’s. Faced with an ultimatum of a Cadillac or their job, four salesmen are desperate to make a sale. What ensues is a race to the bottom where every many is out for themselves, and for a share of someone else if they can help it.


Mamet’s script includes homophobic slurs and racist humour that certainly haven’t aged well. It does mean that, in terms of revealing capitalism at its dirtiest and most despairing, Glengarry Glen Ross remains a disturbingly realist depiction.


For a fast-paced play, there was unfortunately a lack of the needed energy through the opening scene, but this was quickly remedied by the beautifully bumbling Levene played by Mark Langham. Langham seems perfectly at ease with Mamet’s fast-clipped and rambling script, a salesman past his prime but desperate to make any close he can. The two-hander with Moss (Hannah Raven) and Aaronow (Andrew Simpson) is well-paced and engaging, as Moss expertly winds Aaronow into a trap he can’t even see until he’s in it. Raven and Simpson continue to deliver throughout the show, Simpson bringing much needed comedic moments through the anxious Aaronow and Raven carrying the gravitas of Moss all the way through. Oliver Burton as Roma also delivers a charismatic performance, swindling Lingk (Adrian Adam) effortlessly into a sale, while ready to stab any man in the back who tries to take his close.


The set design by Tom Bannerman is perfect for this fast-paced show, providing the performance with the dynamism it needs, and keeping only the bare bones required to set the scene. The sound and lighting design could have been used more to support the performance, with small errors such as the backing track seemingly running out in the Chinese restaurant and an out-of-sync spotlight distracting from the show. Likewise, while the suits of the 1980’s were notoriously large, this did not necessarily mean they were ill-fitting; some characters including Blake and Roma looked out of place in their suits, where they should have seemed their most comfortable.


This set and its set of performers provide allowed Director, Louise Fischer, to keep the dialogue-heavy show moving. While there was more room for some more light and shade, Fischer is effective in keeping the audience engaged and alert, bringing out the tensions and relationships from the script at each turn.


Glengarry Glen Ross was never meant to be a comfortable play to watch, but when it hits the mark as it does to near totality in this production, it makes you care for the characters who would never care for you, and thank your lucky stars you aren’t faced with the choice between a Cadillac or the sack.


Photo Credit: Chris Lundie