GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS – Theatre Royal Plymouth

25 February 2019


Sam Yates’ 2017 London production of David Mamet’s ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ made a big splash when it opened and now, the same production is touring the UK – what joy!

Watching this extraordinarily well-written play (1984 Pulitzer Prize Winner) with a tremendous cast was like sitting with a warm blanket enveloping you. Admiring all aspects of the production during its slender running time is not a frequent experience.

Mamet used his experience of working in the real estate business to craft a devastating concoction of bravado, deception, lies and loss, the result is some of the sparest writing you will ever hear with every phrase, interruption, F-word and pause perfectly placed.

The precision of the writing does, however, require inordinate skill in performance and direction and Yates is the perfect guide through Mamet World. He is so well served by the cast of seven. As the central character of Shelley Levene, Mark Benton is outstanding; his ability to switch from comedy to tragedy in a stroke is so clever. During the second act he is almost like a pricked balloon as his actions are uncovered; deflating before our eyes. Equally excellent is Nigel Harman as the smooth talking, sly, arrogant Ricky Roma – a character of dubious virtue who Harman nails. Denis Conway gives full vent to the frustration, fear and loathing of Dave Moss – his wonderful opening outburst and his parting shots are stunning. Wil Johnson deals with the many stop/start lines with skill and offers a more sympathetic and sadder character as George Aaronow. Scott Sparrow’s upright John Williamson is repressed and without sympathy and James Staddon draws much sympathy as the luckless and vulnerable James Lingk. Zephryn Taitte gives the policeman Baylen with great authority. As an ensemble cast I doubt you will see much better.

Two stunning sets by Chiara Stephenson provide wonderfully authentic backdrops for the shenanigans. The splendid Chinese restaurant of the first act gives way to the fantastically detailed dilapidated office – full of clutter, mess and well-chosen period articles. The sets alone are almost another character.

The unusual structure of the play – the first act is just 35 minutes and the second 50 – might take some by surprise, but it’s perfect – no more is needed. You are left with many questions in your head – the writer has done his job.

This is a very funny and, at times, uncomfortably dark look at the machinations of business where sales must be achieved at any cost. It is a theatrical treat from the top drawer – don’t miss it.


Shelley Levene – Mark Benton

Ricky Roma – Nigel Harman

Dave Moss – Denis Conway

George Aaronow – Wil Johnson

John Williamson – Scott Sparrow

James Lingk – James Staddon

Baylen – Zephryn Taitte

Writer – David Mamet

Director – Sam Yates

Design – Chiara Stephenson

Lighting Design – Richard Howell

Props Supervisor – Jasper Fox

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