Sunday, December 5, 2010

Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet (1984)

Summary:  Four salesman, an office manager, a client and a policeman interact over the course of two days (and two acts).  Separating the two acts is an unseen robbery in which highly sought-after sales leads are stolen. 

Important characters:
Shelly Levene:  A once-great 50-something salesman who spends the first scene begging for leads and is ultimately responsible for the burglary.
Roma:  A highly competitive 40-something salesman who is at the top of his game and the lead in a sales contest that will give the winner a Cadillac.
Moss:  Plans the burglary.
Aaronow:  First approached by Moss to carry out the burglary, he refuses, Shelly is enlisted.
Williamson:  The office manager who handles the distribution of the leads and the keeping of sales figures on the important "board."  The salesmen in the office enjoy reminding Williamson that he is not one of them.

Thoughts:  This play (like the work of Albee, Kushner, Letts, Shepard and others) is highly verbal.  However, it is not verbal in the same way.  There are very few memorable or quotable lines in Mamet's text, and some of the most quoted ("Will you get out of here.  Will you get out of here.  Will you.  I'm trying to run an office here.  Will you go to lunch?  Go to lunch.  Will you go to lunch?" (Act 2, 1284)) are perhaps only quoted because of memorable utterances offered by actors in performances on stage and in the 1992 film (

Instead of creating highly literate verbal characters who are inclined to correct the grammar of those surrounding them (Albee), Mamet uses a lot of "ordinary" words and depends on actors to speak them quickly.  His language is characteristically masculine and often punctuated with curse words.  In the words of my professor David Jones, "[Mamet's work] is like a coming-out party for the word motherfucker."

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