MTC: Glengarry Glen Ross

David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is many things. It won Mamet the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama because it captured a time, place and attitude so remarkably. He re-wrote it as an acclaimed film (1992) and the play’s an aspirational piece for actors. Who doesn’t want to do a Mamet? But this MTC production fails to capture what makes Mamet so popular.

Glengarry Glen Ross. Photo by Jeff Busby
Photo by Jeff Busby

It’s hard make the anger and social-grasp of Mamet dull, but director Alkinos Tsilimidos manages to make it feel like a soporific mid-afternoon tv movie. It passed the time pleasantly enough, but lacked any spark to make a blaze.

The cast are all terrific actors, but seem to be performing to be watched for their performance rather than working together to tell a story (which has nothing to do with John McTernan coming in at the last minute and still having his script).  They’re enjoying the experience of being in the play, but they’re not bringing the audience into the world on the stage.

There’s no way in for the audience to find an emotional connection or a reason to care. The most empathy comes from Brett Cousins, as the conned Lingk, but the play’s not about him; he’s there to show what a dick Roma (Alex Dimitriades) is and what a dick Levene (McTernan) can be.

The detail of the design’s 1980s office is a welcome distraction, but there’s no comment, fun or satire to support the script or help make it about now and us. And it’s not like there are no parallels to easily draw about dodgy real estate being sold to people who can’t afford it.

If a production isn’t a reflection of us and now, why bother?

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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