Glengary Glen Ross review

January 31, 2010

For whatever reason “all-female production” does not have the same fuzzy connotations its male counterpart does. You think all-male and you think of vaudeville, music hall, or even Shakespeare performed in its most traditional form. You think all female and you think 12 Angry Lesbians in a Woe is Me production. Well, there is plenty of anger in Idir Mna’s debut performance of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Glengarry Glen Ross but it is peopled with credible, feminine performances that avoid any trace of butch. These aren’t women playing men; they are cleverly drawn characters that have taken on a life of their own.

The setting is still Chicago, though updated to the current day, and it depicts two days in the lives of four desperate real estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts to save their jobs. The performances are top notch and not at all what you would expect from a cast of relative unknowns. Jane Elizabeth Walsh as Rikki Roma does a superb job stepping into the shoes of Al Pacino, banishing all thoughts of him in a role dripping with bullish sexuality. Her opening monologue was met with a spontaneous round of applause and cast a light on how barfly banter can often be laced with sexual undertones. She manipulates all around her with her honeyed words backing us into a corner and making us squirm as she breaks her clients down.

But for me the performance of the evening was Sharon Coade as Shelley “The Machine” Leveane. Both tragic and comic at the same time she never let one overpower the other in bringing to life a desperate, aging saleswoman with a sick daughter. For her the stakes are higher than most and the way she flips from her characters highs to her characters lows without dropping a beat was a joy to behold. Her desperate opening and closing scenes are sandwiched by a brilliant turn up for the books and the uncontainable glee she takes from this turn of events spurs on the other characters to turn on the hateful office manager (Yvonne Ussher) and lends the show a more pleasant tone to the argy bargy showdowns elsewhere.

Glengarry Glen Ross sold out its first run and is well on its way to repeating that success. Book now to avoid idiocy.


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