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Glengarry Glen Ross at The Alexandra Birmingham - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Play With A Star Cast
You may know the writer behind this Pulitzer Prize-winning play, David Mamet, for the films he's penned like The Postman Always Rings Twice and The Untouchables.

Glengarry Glen Ross Birmingham
Mark Benton and Nigel Harman star in Glengarry Glen Ross

His in-depth characterisations are what makes this play about ruthless and desperate real estate salesmen so interesting.

Glengarry Glen Ross returns for a UK tour, which opened in Birmingham at The Alexandra, where I caught the show.

Set in an office of cut-throat Chicago salesmen in the 1980's, the short first act introduces the audience to the various characters through a series of conversations in a restaurant. They, in turn, show salesmen in varying states of desperation and anger before we see the man they are all trying to beat (Nigel Harman) in action.

It quickly emerges that there is a high-stakes competition that is pushing them all to new extremes, but how far will they go?

Glengarry Glen Ross Birmingham
Conversational scenes in the first act

While the opening act is quite sedated, the second act is a little longer, (but the whole play is less than two hours). The momentum and comedy lift hugely in this second section as the repercussions of the toxic environment are unearthed and everyone's true nature is revealed.

It's a dark comedy that is lifted by fine acting from a strong cast. While there's the recognisable Mark Benton and Nigel Harman from various TV shows, it's Denis Conway, from The Lieutenant of Inishmore who has all the best lines as angry, off the rails salesman Dave Moss.

Benton is particularly good at showing an emotional desperate side to his character, Shelly. It's a very moving performance for the actor who has also toured with Hairspray.

Glengarry Glen Ross Birmingham
The second act has more momentum

I wasn't so sure about Harman during the opening scenes but he really comes into his own in the second act when the selfish nature of his character Ricky Roma becomes more apparent.

Adding fine support are Wil Johnson as a nervous George Aaronow; Scott Sparrow as untrustworthy John Williamson; James Staddon as one of the clients James Lingk; and Zephryn Taitte as Baylen.

There's quality scenery too with two extravagant, detailed sets - one for each act. It starts in a Chinese restaurant and moves on to the sales office.

Written in the'80s, this play has held up relatively well over time but the constant swearing probably isn't as shocking now as it once was.

Glengarry Glen Ross still gives plenty of food for thought and an interesting insight into the sales career but the production's strength lies with the fine acting on stage.


Glengarry Glen Ross continues on its UK tour until 4 May.

The Alexandra, Birmingham

Mon 18 Sat 23 February 2019

‪0844 871 3011‬

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Why? See dark comedy
When: 18 - 23 February 2019
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Where: The Alexandra, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham, B4
Cost: From 20
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