It may be fiendishly well-built and damn near indestructible, but you wouldn’t think David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross could contain two Richard Romas. The top real-estate huckster in Mamet’s anatomy of manhood, shame and the dirty art of the sell, Roma tends to dominate the room with his physical charisma and staccato palaver, his alpha-male epigrams laced (of course) with pirouetting profanities. Al Pacino owned the role in the 1992 movie version, establishing the gold standard for how to deliver Mamet’s sprung-rhythm vulgarities. So when the curtain rises to reveal Pacino talking that talk, you need a second to readjust. This time he’s Shelly “the Machine” Levene, wheedling has-been, begging for another shot. Roma, meanwhile, is played by sleek, bronzed, priapic Bobby Cannavale. Can this possibly work?
Bet your ass it does. Ricky and Shelly have a special bond in Glengarry. Although none of the desperate men hawking properties in their crummy Chicago office like one another, there’s a grudging respect between Shelly—who used to be a hotshot—and Ricky, who currently is. In the second act, when the older man recounts his early-morning sale to an elderly couple, the rascally delight between master and student is palpable. And as Shelly begins his inevitable fall, you see Ricky catching a glimpse of his future.
Pacino and Cannavale are fierce and hilarious, rattling through the Mametspeak. But the entire cast blazes in Daniel Sullivan’s tight, anger-unmanaged staging: David Harbour’s humiliated office prick, Williamson; John C. McGinley’s bilious Moss; Richard Schiff’s schlemiel Aaronow; Jeremy Shamos’s spineless Lingk; and Murphy Guyer’s cop, Baylen. They may be weak, craven shells of men, but they close on one of the biggest deals of the season.—David Cote
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