Glengarry Glen Ross

This may seem strange, but sometimes the bad things are easier to write about than the good ones.

Tuesday night we saw Elektra, hated it, and I had no problem coming up with a couple of hundred pithy words on why it sucked.

Tonight we saw Glengarry Glen Ross, loved every second, and I’m speechless.

Al Pacino is great, but you knew he would be. Bobby Cannavale, who carries as much of the play as Pacino, is also great, but that was no surprise either. I see Cannavale on Nurse Jackie and know what he can do with a role.

The play is fantastic,David Mamet got a Pulitzer prize for writing it, but that’s why they made a movie of it 30 years ago, when Pacino was young and handsome and played the role Cannavale plays now of Rick Roma, the hotshot, ruthless sales star of the office.

Okay, here’s something I would not have predicted–Pacino gives a wonderful performance without his usual bombast. His character, Shelley “the machine” Levene, is worn and tired, beaten down by life and grasping at straws. He starts with bragadocio and ends with pathos, but keeps the famous Pacino anger in check all the way.

The stage play is quite a bit different from the movie; much funnier in places. The office manager John Williamson, played here by David Harbour, is more wimpy and weasely here than in the film, where they built the role up for Alec Baldwin. My cousin James Foley (who is too good to speak to anyone in the family anymore) directed the movie–blame him.

The play flies by. The first act is three scenes and lasts 45 minutes. The second act is just over an hour, and you’re out the door by 10:10 or earlier. It seems sooner, as you get so enraptured with the performances and the writing and story you’re barely comfortable in your seat and the play is over–that only happens at the really great ones, and this qualifies.

The theater itself gets fewer nice words. The Gerald Schoenfeld Theater was built in 1917, and people were smaller then. They may have reupholstered the seats, but they aren’t any larger, and it’s an awfully close fit, both in legroom and shoulder room. There is less space here than on Southwest Air. The restrooms are downstairs and insufficient. As you enter the stairway, they separate the men on the left and the women on the right so the lines back up correctly.

Even with the tiny seats this was a fantastic night of theater, and in fact it is the specific reason we are in New York. Gail and I were planning a trip to Lake Louise when we noticed this play and its short 73 performance run, and Canada will have to wait.


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