Aptly named after two real estate developments, Glengarry Glen Ross is a satirical dark comedy. At first glance, it delves into the cut throat business of the Chicago real estate world, but on a closer look, the theme is broadened to examine the sales industry in general.
Originally written and then performed on Broadway in 1984 by screenwriter and playwright David Mamet, it’s based on his experiences of working in a Chicago real estate office during the late 1960’s. Given the original script is over 30 years old, it’s impressive how relevant the topic still is and very telling about an industry which rewards success with Cadillacs; who hasn’t notice a pink Nutrimetrics car driving around at some point? As for failure, well that’s just not an option. As if any further merit was required, the awards Glengarry Glen Ross has received includes a Laurence Olivier, a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony award, and it even made it to the big screen starring Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin.
The first scene opens in a Chinese restaurant paying a lovely homage to Northbridge’s Chinatown, even though the play was written long before it was a twinkle in Perth’s eye. Glengarry Glen Ross has a touch of the Death of a Salesman about it, except Willy Loman craved approval, whereas these characters only want to be liked to seal the deal. Charm is a means to an end as the agents take on the many of the traits associated with a desperate salesman: power hungry, vindictive, conniving, greedy and insecure.
Peter Rowsthorn (Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Kim’s long-suffering husband Brett, in Kath & Kim) delivers a stand out performance as the washed Shelly Levene. He possess none of the smooth qualities you’d expect to find in a salesman, except when he’s playing the accomplice and even then he’s transparent. Played by Damian Walshe-Howling (known for his Underbelly character, Benji), Ricky Roma is everything Levene isn’t and the ultimate sales man who convinces the buyer they want whatever it is he’s selling. I thoroughly enjoyed Kenneth Ransom’s energy as agent David Ross, as well as his versatility from previous sinister roles in Black Swan Productions House on the Lake and Dinner.
As the plot begins to thicken over the two day scenario it becomes apparent these desperate real estate agents will break almost all the commandments to make a sale. Glengarry Glen Rose may have had no intermission, but it certainly isn’t a one-act wonder.
Glengarry Glen Ross is a Black Swan State Theatre Company production and plays at the State Theatre Centre of WA from 23 May until 14 June 2015