Dec 15, 2012

Battle Scars

(photo by Scott Landis)
Incredibly busy at the moment, but I'll take a moment to point you to my latest review, of a particularly high-profile Broadway property:
There’s a classic bit of advice for actors: Walk into the audition thinking of yourself as the solution to the director’s problem; be that solution and you’ve got the part. Closing the deal is a steeper challenge for the cutthroat salesmen in David Mamet’s 1983 masterpiece Glengarry Glen Ross, now getting a gripping if lopsided Broadway revival starring Al Pacino. The customers these salesmen go after—mostly offstage, with one telling exception—must be convinced they have a problem in the first place, one that only a costly real estate investment can solve. The salesmen’s job, then, is to hunt for signs of vulnerability, of weakness, in their fellow men, to isolate and circle the victims, then pounce without mercy. The dramatic irony of their situation, though, is that this rapacity doesn’t harden them; instead, their extreme sensitivity to human frailty, even though it’s used for exploitive ends, seems to have shredded their nerves and wrecked their composure. These are by and large an oddly fearful and touchy bunch, as if their worst nightmare is to become marks themselves.

Hence the itchy, sweaty, sweary back-and-forth that constitutes the trademark Mametspeak, which is closer to a music than a language.
Read the whole thing here.

1 comment:

David Cote said...

Beautifully written and argued, and I echo most of your points in my (far too short) review for TONY. But after weighing all the elements, I thought the music was all there.

One thing that I've been thinking about though, is the status of Glengarry as an "ensemble" piece. Is it, really? I mean, the first act consists of three duets, and then the second act is an extended jazz combo, in which each piece gets its solo then leaves the room. The device of having the cop take individual salesmen into an unseen room for questioning effectively prevents them from all occupying the same space most of the time. And Shelly and Ricky are the main players in the second act.

So, sure, it's an ensemble piece in the general sense that the actors all have to create the reality of the office and their various allegiances and rivalries. But in practice, Glengarry seems less an ensemble piece and more of a series of sketches and skirmishes. Maybe I'm misusing or not understanding the term properly.