Magazine article Variety

Glengarry Glen Ross

Magazine article Variety

Glengarry Glen Ross

Article excerpt


Glengarry Glen Ross

Gerald Schoenfeld Theater; 1.071 seats; $377 top

Al Pacino may be pulling them in for David Mamet's 1984 Politzer Prize-winning ode to American con artistry, "Glengarry Glen Rose," but the guy who's blowing them away is Bobby Cannavate, a live wire in the role played by Pacino in the 1992 film version. The show's hefty $377 tab for prime ducats and the long-delayed opening provided much grist for the gossip mill. But despite production flaws, in this post-recession era of mortgage foreclosures and crooked real estate deals, it's a treat to revisit the best American play ever written about merciless men and their predatory business practices.

The play's two pivotal characters are Shelly Levene (Pacino), the washed-up and desperate agent who was at one time the sparkplug in his Chicago real-estate finn, and Richard Roma (Cannavale), the current cock of the walk, trained by Shelly and still loyal to his old mentor.

The outfit they work for sells worthless shares in Florida real-estate properties to unwary marks. (Eugene Lee's shabby 1980s onice set conveys the soulless nature of the place.) The business is sleazy enough, but the sadistic owners have turned it into a blood sport by dangling cash bonuses and Cadillac cars at their ruthlessly competitive salesmen.

The charismatic Ricky has made it to the top of the board (winning himself the most promising leads on the suckers list) by lying, cheating, bullying and shrewdly reading the minds of the clients he dazzles with his magnetic personality. Watching his seduction of one of these innocent rubes (played by Jeremy Shamos with the pathos of a little lamb being prepared for chops) is to observe a master psychologist at work.

Cannavale is dream casting for Ricky. Hair slicked back and strutting around in the flash suits and loud shirts designed by Jess Goldstein, he blows through Mamet's brilliantly filthy language like a gale force wind. It's a big performance from a powerhouse performer, and when he turns in a rage on John Williamson, the beleaguered office manager played with amazing control by David Harbour, it's also a scary one.

Pacino is a more restless performer, drawing on his nervous energy to prowl the stage as Shelly, as if he were leading the hard-luck salesman in panicky flight from the frantic thoughts buzzing in his brain. …

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