by David Mamet.

Library Theatre To 3 April 2010.
Mon-Thu 7.30pm Fri-Sat 8pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Audio-described 1 April 7.30pm, 3 April 3pm.
Captioned 31 March.
Pre-show Director’s Talk: 30 March 6.30pm 3 April 2pm.
Runs 1hr 35min One interval.

TICKETS: 0161 236 7110.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 27 March.

It like. What? You know. WHAT? Helps. It does? That’s right. It helps? It helps. What helps? It HELPS.
Or, outside David Mamet–speak: “It helps.” To have Glengarry Glen Ross, that is, directed by Manchester Library Theatre’s Chris Honer, who brings clarity and reality to any script. In this revival of Mamet’s finest theatre piece, from 1983, it means that the playwright’s famous style, so easily corrupted into being played simply as hurtling mannerisms, reveals breathing characters.

As well, of course, as the naked heart of American capitalism. All the energy, all the skills, of these men are focused on making money. Property, a mainstay of law and justice, becomes a cause of lies, crime and ambitions dwindled to having your name chalked on the office board as a top-selling estate agent, with the chance of a glittering prize and the best leads for staying top next month. It’s tooth-and-claw individualism, lacking even the pack-mentality of jungle law.

If Mamet’s innovation is expressing such a world through jagged expression, meaning shifting effortfully forward against shuddering competitive resistance, in fragmented sentences colliding like crashing cars, Honer’s unique contribution is in holding all this back from auto-pilot ‘Mamet’ and ensuring each moment is clear.

Has-been salesman Shelley Levene has never seemed so much a descendent of Death of a Salesman’s Willy Loman as in David Fleeshman’s portrayal here. Loman too fatally insults his boss before grovelling and offering to work for next-to-nothing. But Levene goes further, upping the bribery, then later gloating hysterically in short-lived triumph.

Fleeshman’s hulking agitation’s keenly contrasted by the cold control of Paul Barnhill’s sleekly ruthless manager. And the success continues through a cast full of fine northern, Library-acclimatised actors. Like James Quinn and John McAndrew in unequal verbal contest, McAndrew’s relaxed control contrasting Quinn’s perplexed surprise, or Richard Dormer’s high-flying Roma, cock-a-hoop, strutting round the office soaked with success-induced adrenaline; in the same room but living a different life from those less successful around.

Honer’s production captures it all, as Judith Croft’s set does the shabby elegance of red-plush restaurant booths before the interval, and the austere office afterwards, making another in the triumphant trail of the Library’s textbook revivals of modern American drama.

Shelley Levene: David Fleeshman.
John Williamson: Paul Barnhill.
Dave Moss: John McAndrew.
George Aaronow: James Quinn.
Richard Roma: Richard Dormer.
James Lingk: Leigh Symonds.
Baylen: Nick Moss.

Director: Chris Honer.
Designer: Judith Croft.
Lighting: Nick Richings.
Sound: Paul Gregory.
Voice coach: Sally Hague.
Assistant director: Katie Lewis.

2010-03-29 00:40:04

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