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Christian Slater and Kris Marshall lead ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ at Playhouse Theatre London – review

By Will Stroude

This is the murky world of real estate salesman willing to do anything to make that sale. Morals and values are non existent in a world of fragile egos and toxic masculinity. Failure is for the weak, getting on top and staying there is everything.

The first half is made up of three short scenes introducing us to our real estate salesman. Levene (Stanley Townsend) is begging his ice cold office manager Williamson (Kris Marshall) for better leads. Moss (Robert Glenister) ruthlessly tries to manipulate his co-worker Aaronow (Don Warrington) to stage a robbery to steal the all important leads. And finally top dog Roma (Christian Slater) reveals his snake-like ability to sniff out a potential and vulnerable client and charm them into a sale. After a necessary yet annoyingly early interval all these characters come together in a much more entertaining second half.

The sales office is a snake pit where these men fight it out in something resembling The Hunger Games. At the end of the month, the man with the most sales gets a bonus and a brand new Cadillac, while the bottom two face obscurity by being unceremoniously booted out. Let the games begin.

The production is awash with testosterone, gesticulating, brutal one-upmanship and littered with everyday sexism and expletives. The men relentlessly parade their masculinity in what is one desperate cock-fight. However, we never get a sense of what lies beneath these tough exteriors. As well as their obvious bravado it would be much more interesting to see their apparent insecurities and vulnerability. Without this why would we care about these people?

With an arched eyebrow and crocodile smile Slater oozes charisma as the office wonder kid Roma. Townsend gives an entertaining portrayal of a salesman who has lost the magic touch. We see glimpses of it in his re-enactment of his supposed sale but he is half way out the door and he knows it. Warrington excellently portrays the sheer exhaustion of a life time in constant battle and Daniel Ryan gives a much needed human element to this brutal blood bath.

The short length of this play doesn’t allow us to explore these characters fully however this is an entertaining and well acted production of a Mamet classic.

Rating: 3/5

Glengarry Glen Ross runs at the Playhouse Theatre until 3 February.

Words by Matthew Hyde