Darlinghurst Theatre, April 9, 2013
Three decades ago David Mamet suspended the ending of his pugnacious little play Glengarry Glen Ross, as if to say, “This behaviour will continue.” Sure enough the dog-eat-dog grotesqueness of capitalism run amok would spiral into the GFC, pause in momentary confusion, and build once more.
His play is the spiritual successor to Death Of A Salesman, with Shelley Levene being his Willy Loman, whose failure as a salesman (in this case of dodgy real estate) equates in his mind – and his colleagues’ minds – with failure as a man.
None of Mamet’s characters is attractive: viscous drool to close a deal hangs from the fangs of each. These are bullish people made into monsters by greed and competitiveness. In Marcus Graham’s furious production – over in an hour – they storm, swagger, swill whisky and shout each other down.
The opening scene between Levene (Barnaby Goodwin) and office manager John Williamson (Brett Heath) set the tone of machine-gun delivery with overlaps and scything interruptions. This pair stood out, Heath balancing being put upon with being the biggest bastard in an office where bastardry is an art-form.
At first Joe Addabbo struggled not to overdo the braggadocio of star salesman Richard Roma, but zeroed in as the character’s anger grew, and then deftly played the ray of kindness for Levene that comes too late.
Rather than catching George Aaronow’s relative softness Hunter McMahon initially just seemed out-gunned (by the likes of Ivan Topic’s Dave Moss), but he, too, grew in conviction. Anthony Taufa was an imposing Baylen, while Nick Hunter provided relief from the bombardment as James Lingk, the innocent whom Roma ensnares.
Graham has punctuated the play with Marty Jamieson’s dark soundtrack and set it on a bare stage under blasting white light. Although the rest did not quite match his masterful verbal choreography of the opening scene, the production still twists the knife on just how low we go to turn a dollar.
Until May 5.