Glengarry Glen Ross: a non-event starring Al Pacino
Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk Entertainment.com
There has been a lot of pre-opening discussion about the latest revival of David Mamet’s GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, his 1984 Pulitzer Prize winning drama starring Al Pacino in the Willy Loman type role – Shelly Levene – a has been, a once top rated real estate broker circa 1969 in Chicago who held the record for “closings” and now is pleading for a second chance to prove that he still has the goods.
It has finally opened, well into its limited run which while extended has posted its closing notice for January 20th, 2013 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
It appears that this is a case of much ado about not too much. Mr. Pacino’s performance is in a minor key, looking bedraggled and befuddled at times. It’s all very low key – strange – even dance-like as the downtrodden, once on top salesman of a shoddy shark infested Real Estate Company where his co-workers would do anything to get onto the “Board” listing the guy with the top sales (most closings) and then win a Cadillac – much like Mary Kay Cosmetics.
They are all unethical in this slice of life rife with fuck infested rapid fire dialogue and monologues where the buyer better beware. Lies, bribes, bigotry and burglary are on the menu at the local Chinese Restaurant where they go to plan and plot and perhaps meet a future investor.
The structure is odd. In the quick first act we meet in three scenes the odd group of salesmen. Mr. Pacino meets with the office manager John Williamson (a fine David Harbour) over fortune cookies to try to get some hot leads. No go. Then we meet Dave Moss (John C. McGinley) who is trying to persuade George Aaronow (Richard Schiff) to maybe break into the office and steal those hot leads - followed by the introduction of the most successful of the bunch Richard Roma, dressed for success, sharp and as slimy as his slicked back hair – the magnificent Bobby Cannavale - pinky ring and cigarette case intact playing the flashier role that Mr. Pacino made famous in the 1992 film version. And playing it to the hilt. Beautifully.
Act II finds us in the broken into office where even the phones have been stolen. The crime scene is being investigated by Baylen (Murphy Guyer) where he interrogates the suspects off stage while Shelly arrives with the big news that he has closed on eight units – making him the highest shark on the totem pole which doesn’t go over very well with Roma whose latest deal is in jeopardy. A patsy he met in the restaurant – James Lingk (Jeremy Shamos).
In the best and most riveting scene Mr. Pacino relives his eight unit deal – addressing the audience as if he is trying to sell us his spiel – the old fashioned way.
Like being sold a rotten piece of real estate, it’s over before you know it. Directed by Dan Sullivan.
Photo: Scott Landis
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