Theatre Review: Glengarry Glen Ross

Tight, tough, and darkly funny


Presented by Flying Penguin Productions & Brink Productions
Reviewed 11th September 2021

David Mamet has always been controversial, both as a playwright and as an individual. But this controversy, woven around exquisite word-smithing, means that Mamet can provide an amazing night in the theatre, if done right.

With this new production of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Glengarry Glen Ross, Flying Penguin and Brink have most definitely done it right.

Set in a real estate office in the early 80s, Glengarry tracks 24 hours in the life of the salesmen. John has been made office manager- a young buck who has got the job possibly through nepotism. Things are not like ‘the old days’. The closes aren’t happening like they used to. And now there is a sales competition: top of the board wins a Cadillac; bottom of the board gets the crummy leads. What happens when men who are trying to make a living, and whose self-esteem is tied up in “closing” are pitted against each other? What does it look like when capitalism starts eating its own young?

Director David Mealor has gathered a powerhouse ensemble to tell this tale. The opening scene between John Williamson (Bill Allert) and Shelly Levene (Rory Walker) sets the tone magnificently. Mamet’s realistic, often overlapping dialogue, is a gift to an actor, and this troupe clearly revels in it. George (Nicholas Garsden) and Dave Moss (Christopher Pitman) keep it tight, while playing with the ever-present black comedy. Mark Saturno bestrides the stage like a colossus in the role of gun-salesman Richard Roma, perfectly offset by James Wardlaw’s gorgeously pathetic James Lingk. Chris Asimos as police officer Baylen holds his own in this less interactive role.

Glengarry Glen Ross is a play that is easy to push too hard. Mealor and his team manage to keep it suitably loud and brash, whilst holding it in just at the right point. This allows for the subtler aspects of both character and humour, to find their space.

Designer Kathryn Sproul has produced a set that is nothing short of extraordinary, especially given the limitations of the Bakehouse stage. Tom Kitney’s lighting plays with Sproul’s set, adding depth and atmosphere. And Quentin Grant’s music and sound lift the entire production from good to great. Special kudos to voice coach Patrick Klavins who worked with the cast to produce solid accents that added the requisite rhythm to the dialogue.

This is an exciting, hilarious, and moving piece of theatre. It is a showcase of some of the best directing, acting, music, and design, and a testament to the sheer bloody determination of creatives ploughing on through hard times.

Many performances are already sold out so buy a ticket, grab your mask, and immerse yourself in an extraordinary night of theatre.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Venue:  Bakehouse Theatre
Season:  10-25 September 2021
Duration:  95 minutes
Tickets:  $23-$35
Bookings:  https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing?eid=787674&

Rating out of 5: 4.5

#Adelaide @BakehouseTheatr @BrinkTheatre

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