‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ revival examines the dark side of cutting deals

Christian Slater arrives at the 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards in Santa Monica
Actor Christian Slater arrives at the 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California, U.S., December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

November 8, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) – In an age where a real-estate salesman has assumed the highest political office in the United States, a new revival of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Glengarry Glen Ross” in London is highlighting the dark side of the art of the deal.

The play, which first premiered in London’s National theater in 1983, charts two days in the life of a group of desperate Chicago real estate salesmen and chronicles the moral compromises they are willing to make in order to make a sale.

For director Sam Yates, whose London revival stars Hollywood actor Christian Slater, the play is an examination of how language is used to control people — which Yates thinks hits home in the current political climate.

“We have a president in the United States who cut his teeth selling real estate in the 80s,” the director told Reuters.

“The way language is used by these guys in the play, there’s certainly many, many echoes with how you see Trump buying for time or covering up hugely lack of understanding or pushing something or selling something.”

The 1992 film version featured a bravura monologue of sinister masculinity from Alec Baldwin, who won an Emmy this year for his menacing Trump impersonation.

The workplace bullying on display in the play also strikes a chord at a time when Hollywood is experiencing its own scandals of sexual harassment and abuse.

Kevin Spacey, who played an abusive boss in the “Glengarry” film, was fired last week by Netflix from its hit show “House of Cards” after a number of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Slater, who is returning to the London stage more than a decade after an acclaimed run in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, told Reuters that for too long Hollywood has been “sweeping so many things under the carpet and living with these hush-hush little secrets, that everybody kind of knows about but doesn’t really want to do anything about.”

“That era has to come to an end, women and men have to feel comfortable in the workplace, and in every place,” he said.

“And this sort of behavior of taking advantage and manipulating people, that’s over.”

(Reporting by David Doyle, writing by Mark Hanrahan in London)

  • Flagfriend

    “And this sort of behavior of taking advantage and manipulating people, that’s over.”

    translated as:

    “so now that that is behind us, why don’t all you people stop shining the light on us and let us go back to doing our thing”

    Not so fast, Mr. Slater. Why would anyone take your word for it?