Glengarry Glen Ross review

Theatre, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(9user reviews)

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Christian Slater stars in a powerful revival of David Mamet's classic

INTERVIEW: Christian Slater on 'Glengarry Glen Ross'

Is the #metoo era really the best time to mount a major revival of play about a group of testosterone-raddled male real estate agents being unbearably blokey?

Well kind of, maybe. US playwright David Mamet has devoted much of his recent career to being a grade-A douchebag (his most recent wheeze was threatening to fine theatres who held post-show discussions after his plays). But it’s easy to forget how good he used to be. ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’, from 1983, remains his most famous play, and deservedly so: it’s a startlingly short, painfully sharp, excavation of the desperation that lies under the alpha male ego.

The first half is the set up, three rapid vignettes set in the same Chicago Chinese restaurant. In the opener, veteran salesman Shelley ‘The Machine’ Levene (Stanley Townsend) is using every ounce of charm he has to try and persuade impassive office apparatchik John (Kris Marshall, impressively unlovable) to give him some hot leads. In the second, cantankerous old hand Dave (Robert Glenister) tries to recruit fellow old-timer George (Don Warrington) to help him break into the office. And in the third, hotshot Ricky Roma (big star Christian Slater, back in the West End after a decade off) launches into a long aspirational monologue to the meek chap sat next to him – which turns out to be a ruthlessly honed sales pitch.

Lasting just 35 minutes and chased by an interval and dramatic set change, the first half almost functions as a prequel to the carnage of the second. Set the next day, the men are reeling from the aftermath of an office break in. It is all self-interest rather than concern: Slater’s Roma is a masterclass in toxic masculinity, his face shifting from smarmy detachment to a searing death stare that practically flays John’s skin from his bones. Veteran Irish actor Townsend is excellent at conveying Shelley’s desperate emotional rollercoaster ride – we root for him, kind of, and he has a light, likeable touch next to the cranky balls of testosterone around him. But there are flashes of nastiness, and he leaves us with the sense that this man has hollowed himself out utterly in the ephemeral pursuit of sales.

It’s not so much a tragedy as a clinical dissection of little men who lie to make themselves feel bigger. Mamet neither feels sorry for them nor celebrates them – this is simply how they are. If Yates’s hard, terse production doesn’t exactly go out of its way to hit us over the head with modern parallels, it hardly needs to: America is run by a liar; a series of male celebrities are suddenly telling us they ‘need help’ after decades of alleged abuses that never seemed to trouble them before. The play does not date.

A warning to die hard fans of the film: Alec Baldwin’s famously sweary ‘always be closing’ speech was added for the 1992 movie and has never been part of the play, which is now semi-notorious for disappointing audiences expecting to hear it. Lo and behold, the chap sat next to us expressed his dismay as it its omission as we filed out – one more disappointed middle-aged man in this study in their pathology.


Users say (9)

3 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

2.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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I knew nothing about the show before attending, only that Christian Slater was in it. However, the night I booked for he was not performing due to the Golden Globes. So I should start by saying I can not comment on his performance. The show is a short number, with one intermission. The first half was set all in a bar where different sales team reps slack each other off, complain about work and other crass topics. At half time we did consider leaving but upon hearing how short act two was we decided to stay, and actually act 2 is a lot stronger then the first. Over all I did enjoy it, the actors were strong in delivering their characters, but I would ask yourself 'how interested in sales, business, work team interaction am I, before going. I work in a sales team and I think this is where my enjoyment came from. I am told (although havn't seen it) that the film is better. 


I was fortunate enough to get a last minute ticket through Time Out deals for £15 over the Christmas period and I was so glad I got to watch this - a stellar cast, with a simple but effective tale of devious real estate agents. Given the short run time (30 min first half, 50 min second half), the performance flies by and it contains some of the best 'sweary' moments I've ever heard on stage, this is not one for the easily offended (and some of the references to race and religion seem a little outdated in today's society). This is on until early February and one of the better 'contemporary' dramas I've seen on the London stage in a while.  Watch this and treat yourself to a viewing of the equally sublime 90s film version afterwards.


Disappointing & totally lacking the excitement & drama of the film version. Christian Slater delivers a watchable performance, but it's not enough to make this production worth catching. The whole show just fails to deliver. 

"one more disappointed middle-aged man in this study in their pathology."

What the hell is this review? I think this review indicates far more "middle-age man pathology" than what some random fan of the film said on his way out of the theatre.


An underwhelming performance by a cast that does not yet seem in sync. Very short first act (30 minutes) that has no energy or life to it. Should be a one act play, but the set change (that also took 30 minutes the day I watched) necessitates two. Christian Slater is good as the ruthless lead, but overall the production feels disjointed and dated. This show will definitely have a hard time filling seats with paying customers at The Playhouse.

Oh dear, very underpowered production which really only serves to remind one that the film is actually better than the play with additional dialogue and a stellar turn by Alec Baldwin. Christian Slater is OK at best but really he's here doing a rather poor Al Pacino impression. Kris Marshall is way out of his depth, in a production that will struggle to find an audience

As a huge fan of the film, I was fully aware of what the story was about. I noticed that this play misses parts of the beginning of the film and most importantly it completely omits Alec Baldwin's "ABC" scene - which might hurt a little bit if you were looking forward to see it. Christian Slater was brilliant as Roma. It's a short one (about 30 minutes for each act) but I would recommend going to see it!


To be honest, I didn't really know what this play was about and I booked it due to having had a massive crush on Christian Slater when I was younger!  It was enjoyable and I am glad what I went, but I'm not sure I could explain fully what the play was about...  It has a stellar cast and the performances are strong.  The set is simple, yet effective.  Not one for those who don't like bad language...

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