Always be cautious when going to see a play that appears to have had universal acclaim heaped upon it. David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross won a Pulitzer Prize and was made into a film with a ludicrously starry cast (Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin blah blah blah), and its reputation seemed initially to get the better of the cast at The Library last night.
To be fair, this is the risk you take for buying cheap preview tickets early in the run of any play, but the first half of the performance was nervy and stuttering. Four Chicago salesmen are getting increasingly desperate to sell real estate, squabbling over who gets the best leads and using a selection of four letter words to express their increasing frustration at their jobs and at each other. Slimy Richard Roma is currently in the top spot on the sales board, in line for a Cadillac; ageing Shelley Levene is at the bottom and in line for the sack.
The first half of the play is set in a restaurant, with the main characters introduced in pairs through three short scenes. Mercifully, the performance improved immeasurably in the second half, one long scene set in the sales office in the aftermath of a robbery where most of the sales leads have been stolen; the half-time talk must have been rousing as the cast were superb, particularly David Fleeshman as the washed up Shelley Levene and Richard Dormer as oily Ricky Roma, and the pace of the production found a far more natural rhythm.
The play is on until 3rd April 2010, and is definitely worth a visit based on the second half performance. Full details at http://www.librarytheatre.com.