Glengarry Glen Ross – A Declining Punch

Pacino & Cannavale Photo by: Scott Landis

Pacino & Cannavale
Photo by: Scott Landis

 

by: Sandi Durell

David Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize winner still hacks out the rants and cursing from the desperados known as real estate salesmen trying to one up each other for the ultimate offered prize – a Cadillac to the winner who brings in the most money in sales contracts. They’re ugly, offensive liars willing to do or say whatever it takes to get that signature and the check. But there’s still a goodly amount of comic delivery.

Al Pacino plays Shelly Levine, a struggling has-been elder among the scammers he works with as each tries to catch the gold ring. Pacino, a great actor, has decided to make this an “all about me” performance, contrived as the exaggerated drunk-like rambler, slovenly looking portrayal of Levene. He’s pleading one minute and bloated triumphant the next as he breaks the 4th wall to address the audience forgetting about his fellow actors on stage.

What he has accomplished, however, is to give Bobby Cannavale (another exceptional actor, “Mother F*..R With the Hat”) shining moments as the perfectly cast sleaze hotshot, fast talking Ricky Roma, the role Pacino originally played in the 1992 movie.

None of the salesmen elicit any sympathy as they claw, crawl and curse their way through the 1 hr. 4o minutes while scenes change from seedy Chinese restaurant to seedy office (Eugene Lee, set designer).

Standing out are the top notch actors all: David Harbour as John Williamson (manager of this group of low-lifes) and unyielding to Shelly’s pleading for better leads, but willing to be bribed; John C. McGinley as Dave Moss, in his “I can’t take it anymore performance;” Richard Schiff as the manipulative George Aaronow; Jeremy Shamos (Tony Nominee Clybourne Park) as the hen-pecked James Lingk and Murphy Guyer as Baylen.

It’s an old story that has seen better days and, even with great star power, felt tiresome and in need of a major lift that even the superb director Daniel Sullivan couldn’t manage. I must say I was very much looking forward to this revival but, unfortunately, came away feeling disappointed.

Glengarry Glen Ross at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on West 45th Street,

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