DAVID Mamet’s Pulitzer-prize winning 1984 play Glengarry Glen Ross is a scarifying expose of the vicious sales-practices of its time, when targets were all and (in this case) real estate agents achieved them by any means or lost their jobs.
Perhaps it was a strange play for the first in-house production by Lyme Regis’s famously quirky little theatre on the clifftop, but it was what director Billy Geraghty chose, and it is perfectly done. The original has a cast of seven men, but actor/singer/musician Geraghty decided to introduce two women to the cast – there were more women working in real estate in the US at that time than men, so it seemed perfectly logical, and certainly allowed a different emphasis in the story. Set in Chicago, it starts with meetings in a run-down Chinese restaurant near the office of Mitch and Murray, and the second half is in the even-more-run-down office itself.
Four salespeople face a “motivational” talk in which they are told that they have a week in which to make sales of property on a plat of land which includes Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms. The person who sells most land will be given a Cadillac as well as his commission. The second highest earner gets a set of steak knives. The other two get the boot.
In this new casting, the office manager is Joan Williamson, played with hard-edged panache by Jodie Glover. She’s lunching at the restaurant when the oldest member of the team, Shelly Levene (the pathetically blustering Chris Gill), comes in to beg for better leads. He’s been the big-shot salesman, but his star is waning fast as his one-time protege, Richard Roma, tops the leader-board week after week.
Georgie Aaronow (Siobhan Mccoulough) is another frustrated and failing salesperson, and she and a colleague, Dave Moss (Chris Denne), meet in the restaurant, where he comes in with a scheme to steal the good leads from the company and sell them off to a rival agency … but he doesn’t want to do the stealing.
Richie Roma (the smoothly handsome David Alexander), is soft-soaping a frightened would-be investor, Lingk (Declan Duffy, who spends the entire play looking convincingly like a terrified rabbit in the headlights).
Fast forward to the next day, when the office is in chaos and a police detective is in the process of interviewing all the staff in Joan’s office. Which of the trio has succumbed to Moss’s scheme?
There is not one sympathetic character in this brilliantly unpleasant play, and the Lyme Regis cast do it proud, with excellent and sustained accents and a real feel for the murderously competitive world of sales at the time.
The packed audience at the Marine whooped their delight, and all of us are looking forward to the theatre’s next production – hopefully the second of many to come.