Glengarry Glen Ross is a play mired in the subtleties of bribery and bullying, explicated by lying con men competing for the ultimate prize: a Cadillac car or the elusive privilege of remaining employed. Co-Directors Declan Dillane and Alex Abraham brought these themes of competitive, impersonal Capitalism to life in the Drama Barn, beginning with an engaging and explosive introductory monologue which was to be the performance of the night. This was incorporated into the play from the original film, and fabulously showcased the talent of Joseph Williams as the sinister and menacing Horatio Blake. He dominated, instilling a sense of the power and ownership of the corporation over the individual.
The opening staging was excellent – with Blake in such close proximity to the cast-filled audience, it plunges them deep into the large, impersonal machine of the world of the play. Cynicism and mockery then run wild as the Capitalist machine is parodied, with Moss (Ryan Greer) declaring “Fuck the machine”, in making a joke about his co-worker Levene (Toby King): a play on words that was performed comically and effectively. Audience engagement is then thrown into suspicion, particularly when Moss claims that Aaronow (Joseph D’Angelo) is complicit in a crime because he “listened”. This would have been an opportune moment to really hit home the isolation of the play from a metaphysical angle, through the criminalizing of spectatorship, but unfortunately, the line was almost lost in the speed of the scene change. It was a shame considering the effort taken to draw the audience into the domineering, cut-throat office world at the beginning.
The lighting (by Sam Robinson) should be praised for it stylistic edge. In particular, the spotlights acted as a physical reminder of the pressure on the employees and their inherent isolation. The closing lighting hovered on the board denoting the employee’s rank and statistics, and an interesting curtain fall demonstrating the ultimate priority: money over people. Conversely, the use of gentle romantic music to turn Isaac BD’s suave persuasion into something mimicking a serenade was also effective, amusing and in-keeping with the slick nature of his character, Roma.
The acting was lively and entertaining, and the accents thankfully consistent throughout. The cast should be celebrated for their portrayal of explicitly different, nuanced characters despite the difficulties posed by an all-male cast effectively doing the same job in the same environment. Another stand-out performance was given by Joseph D’Angelo (Aaronow), who carried the comedy of the play and was rewarded with impressive audience response. Speech was conveyed very naturally, with characters often talking simultaneously yet avoiding confusion. This was evidently well practiced, and they coped admirably with Mamet’s complex and detailed script.
Overall the cast were excellent, the staging and directorial decisions minimalistic and in good taste. The character portrayal was compassionate and the play remained true to its message: that no one is free from the stigma of greed and immorality which permeates the office.