Glengarry Glen Ross at Cambridge Arts Theatre - a high voltage play with performances that light up the stage

PUBLISHED: 15:59 12 March 2019

Mark Benton and Nigel Harman in Glengarry Glen Ross at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Mark Benton and Nigel Harman in Glengarry Glen Ross at Cambridge Arts Theatre

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Well! This is a machine gun of a play. Non-stop energy and with such rapid fire performances creating high-pressure salesmen that I left the theatre vowing never to buy anything - ever again.

Well! This is a machine gun of a play. Non-stop energy and with such rapid fire performances creating high-pressure salesmen that I left the theatre vowing never to buy anything - ever again.

Glengarry Glen Ross (named after two plots of land for sale) by David Mamet is about a team of rivals - ruthless, real-estate agents, their cut throat tactics and their hapless victims.

The play is set in America where there don’t seem to be any rules and if there are any, nobody takes any notice of them.

Mark Benton who we have seen on television in a multitude of lighter roles is a revelation as Shelly Levene, the once successful salesman now struggling with the desperation of a drowning man. This performance is electric, shocking and illuminating.

It’s all high voltage.

James Staddon as the unfortunate client who is pleading to get his wife’s money back (on what is probably a shakey deal if not a complete sham) is unforgettable. Even if he were performing in an unknown language, you would know what he was saying from his distraught demeanour. This man has been crushed and crumpled.

Nigel Harman is smooth as the salesman Ricky Roman who will (in line with the trope) say anything but his prayers. Closing a deal to him and to Shelly is a matter of holy duty. It is life and death, it is meat and drink. How you do it is bye the bye and immaterial. Who’s counting, who’s looking, who cares? If they don’t take some smuck for a ride, someone else will.

It’s a mercy that this is a short play. Longer might be lethal. The actors looked as if they were raising their blood pressure and it may have raised levels in the audience for real.

Chiara Stephenson’s two well observed sets, a well-stocked bar with red plush seats, mirrors and Chinese laterns and an office packed full of sweat and chaos are magnificent.

You enter a world that is hard to leave behind. Oh we live in such a car crash of a world, where the only truth is played out as fiction on a stage.

Glengarry Glen Ross (warning, it’s full of swearing - and not on the Bible) is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 16.

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