Glengarry Gets Old


As the Cliche goes, "Time is of the essence." In 1993, David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross seems particular untimely. Unless you have a particular fetish for the money and material hustle of the 1980s, this play will be little interest.

It's a play of greed, corruption, sales, dehumanization, money, and crime. (Sound familiar? It is.) It references the fall of Drexel Burnham Lambert, and Christian Collins's Shelly Levene seems inspired by the Michael Milken saga. Is this yet another latecomer in the formerly fashionable critique of the "excesses of the 1980s," or is it somehow perversely nostalgic for the Glitter Decade? Either way, Glengarry Glen Ross seems unnecessarily dated, if not outright superfluous.

With the notable exception of Esme Howard's Rikki Roma, the acting is as unfulfilling as the plot. Roma's ferocity, acted with sultry urbanity, and her sharp Chanel-esque garb provide the only brightness on a stage populated by unengaging and apparently unengaged characters (typified by the thoroughly uncommitted acting of Steve Wardell playing Sergeant Baylen. Thankfully, his part is quite small).

But perhaps this, too, is a fault of the script. It's difficult imagining anyone these days being able to relate to Mamet's "greed is good" characters, except perhaps for those few lost souls frozen in September, 1987.

To the Credit of the director, Vladimir Ragulin, the staging is deft, except for a few of the exit scenes, in which characters continue lengthy dialogue while trapped ambiguously between lines and exit cues. The gender reversal of many of Mamet's male characters--though potentially interesting in light of much current debate on gender--remains undeveloped. As women, these formerly male characters offer no relevant insight into the innumerable questions that this type of inversion could raise.


The lighting by Massood Farivar and Blake Lawit, props handled by Elye Alexander and the soundtrack by Jon Goldberg set the stage quite well and help to animate what little action happens on stage. However, as the 80s illustrated, accessories can only do so much.

Someday, an 80s revival will happen, and someday it will be interesting. However, we've but just recently sounded the death knell on the 80s, and most of us are interested in pushing onward. Revivals seem only relevant once we've forgotten about whatever it is we're going to revive. Let the 80s corporate aesthetic rest for a while.