Review of Loft Theatre Company production of Glengarry Glen Ross (2011)

It’s not so much cut and thrust in the ruthless business world of playwright David Mamet as kill and maim.

Figuratively speaking, of course, but his vision of combatants vying to achieve the American Dream is cuttingly raw and brutally disturbing. It is certainly not everyone’s shot of bourbon and in this light it represents a bold, brave (some might even say foolhardy) undertaking by an amateur company conscious of the need for audience attraction.

The Loft, to its credit, has built on a reputation for programming seasons which can allow for hot chestnuts in with the soft soufflés. Here director Tim Willis and a highly committed company deliver Mamet undiluted. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the theatre...

The warriors are real-estate men, salesmen who will stop at nothing to achieve their quotas and win the Cadillac. They connive, cheat, beg, implore, threaten and scheme, even resort to burglary. We know it’s a true picture because Mamet himself has been there and done it.

The play is savagely worded and pulls no punches. But for me Mamet, as in his other works, tends to rant and despite the comparative shortness of the piece resorts to ramming down the throat rather than employing any hint of subtlety. In this respect, comparisons with Arthur Miller are pure flights of fancy.

It is unquestionably an Actors’ Dream and the ensemble playing under astute direction proves the point. James Wolstenholme comes dynamically alight as the all-conquering company top boy, Harry Sanders is a splendidly blustering sad-sack desperate to get back on the sales graph and, against the tide, Bryan Ferriman delivers a touching, tragi-comic portrayal of a hapless, inarticulate victim of the corporate tsunami.

The play is unevenly constructed, but the tedium of the first-act duologues is soon dispelled by the fireworks that follow.

Peter McGarry

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Independent reviews by Peter McGarry

Peter McGarry is an experienced, independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to review Loft Theatre Company productions.

The agreement with the Loft is that Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The Loft Theatre Company has no control whatsoever over the content of these reviews and will never comment publicly on what he writes.