Monday, 24 April 2017

“Glengarry Glen Ross” by David Mamet
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.
The title of the play gives nothing away, and I wondered what it all meant. It comes from two real estate properties mentioned in the play: Glengarry Highlands, which is currently the prime real estate everyone is attempting to sell, and Glen Ross Farms, which is mentioned by several characters as having been very lucrative for those selling it several years ago.
It’s Mamet’s most celebrated play and there have been comparisons levelled at Arthur Miller’s “Death Of A Salesman”, but this play is more savage than Miller’s. It’s a competition between the four salesmen, set by their boss, to win a posh car; the runner up prize is a set of steak knives and the losing pair are to be fired. The steak knives, virtually, could be located in the backs of any one of the four men, such is the fierceness of the competition.
There’s a minor theme running through the play of food, which starts in the first scene in a Chinese restaurant and all the way through which is apt as this business is a dog eat dog world, so food and eating are up there, as well as a train of thought for how these salesmen turn into animals, protecting their patch and fighting for survival.
I am so pleased that the director trusted the actors with actual food, showing that they could eat and talk, just like real people do. It;s the little touches like having food and drink in the context of the play that adds a lot of realism for me.
Mamet’s writing, and I must admit, this is my first experience of Mamet’s work and this play, is all about the words and the way they are brought to shocking life by this all male cast.The words are very fruity but relevant to the characters profession and hunger.
David Dunford (Shelley Levene), Wayne Parkin (John Williamson), Fraser Wanless (Dave Moss), Tony Lane (George Aaronow), Graeme Jennings (Richard Roma) all work in the real estate agents. Tony Breeze (James Lingk) is one of the customers who's not too happy that he can't get his money back and Chris Griffiths (Baylen) is the detective.Jim Brooks (Blake) provides the voice over at the start of the play.
At times the American accents wander a bit but on the whole they're pretty solid somewhere between Chicago and Brooklyn. I found all the actors got more into the American twang more in Act 2.
All the characters are very different and all actors presented their characters very well. I've known for a while that Fraser is one of the best character actors at the Lace Market (among many excellent character actors), but I've nor seen Fraser act with
such passion and fire as tonight.
That too can be said about Graeme. There's a scene where he confronted Williamson and if that had been me in real life I would have either walked away, soiled myself or punched Roma, or maybe all three. Such an angry speech, delivered with fire.
David Dunford's initial scene with Wayne Parkin set the scene for the hunger and desperation, compounded by the next scene with Fraser and Tony, all the while building up this picture of competition.
One thing that I did think was a little disjointed, and this is due to Mamet's writing, was that in Act One we see "A" and "B" plotting and in Act 2 it is "C" that admits to what had happened. "C" had more of a motive but what happened to plans set by "A" and "B"? An odd twist, but at least Mamet got us talking about his work after the play was over, always a good thing in theatre.
Directed by Gordon Parsons the play was fast moving and spicy with tons of angry passion and fire.
Set Design by Chris Griffiths. A realistic two setting set which consisted of the Chinese restaurant in Act 1 and the office environment in Act 2.

Lighting Design by Philip Hogarth and Lighting Assistant Allan Green
Sound design by Darren Coxon. Not sure if Darren had a hand in the interval and opening soundtracks but it all linked in to the theme of the play. I love a good linking soundtrack.
An interesting story of desperation and greed and the lengths some people may go to for job security. At just 80 odd minutes long as well, the intermission came faster than expected, as did the play end.
“Glengarry Glen Ross” is on at the Nottingham Lace Market theatre until Saturday 29 April 2017

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