Title: Glengarry Glen Ross
Author: David Mamet
First published January 1, 1983
112 pages, Paperback
Comic Drama Characters: 7 male 2 interior sets
David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is a gripping tale about the intense and cutthroat world of real estate salesmen. With his razor-sharp wit and uncompromising style, Mamet paints a vivid portrait of small-time salesmen who will do whatever it takes to close a deal and achieve the American dream.
This 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play has stood the test of time and remains a masterpiece of American drama. Revived on Broadway in 2006, Glengarry Glen Ross gained renewed popularity and was adapted into a celebrated film starring Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon.
Get ready for an unforgettable journey into the high stakes world of real estate sales with Glengarry Glen Ross.
About the Author
David Alan Mamet is a multi-talented American writer who has written books, essays, plays, screenplays, and directed films. His unique style of writing is characterized by witty, concise, and sometimes crude dialogue, along with stylized phrasing that is often hard to understand.
Mamet is also known for his exploration of masculinity in his works.
As a playwright, his plays Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988) received Tony nominations. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for Oscars for his work on The Verdict (1982) and Wag the Dog (1997).
Some of Mamet’s recent works include The Old Religion (1997), a novel that explores the lynching of Leo Frank; Five Cities of Refuge: Weekly Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (2004), a Torah commentary co-written with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner; The Wicked Son (2006), a study of Jewish self-hatred and antisemitism; and Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business, a sharp-tongued commentary on the film industry.
Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet is a play that takes readers into the world of cutthroat real estate salesmen, desperate to close deals and earn commissions. Published in 1983, it received widespread critical acclaim for its raw portrayal of the American capitalist ethos and the moral depravity it engenders.
Mamet is an accomplished playwright, screenwriter, and director with a reputation for pushing the boundaries of convention. His work often deals with themes of masculinity, power, and betrayal – and Glengarry Glen Ross is no exception.
Set in Chicago during the 1980s, the action takes place over two days in the dingy offices of a real estate company, as a group of salesmen compete to win the prized “Glengarry leads.”
The play’s plot revolves around the interactions of four characters: Shelley Levene, Dave Moss, George Aaronow, and Richard Roma. They are all ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of the modern business world, with outdated skills and few prospects.
These men are forced to rely on their wits and cunning to close deals, even if it means resorting to lying, stealing, and blackmail. Mamet’s writing style is sharp and punchy, with dialogue that crackles with tension and aggression.
He uses profanity and insults to convey the primal desires that drive the characters, and the desperation that underpins their actions. The play’s fast-paced structure, filled with overlapping conversations and quick scene changes, contributes to its electric atmosphere.
One of Glengarry Glen Ross’s strengths is its character development. Mamet builds complex personalities that are both repulsive and relatable.
Shelley Levene, for example, is a washed-up salesman who resorts to begging and pleading with his targets, putting his own self-preservation ahead of his customers’ needs. Dave Moss, on the other hand, is a schemer whose plans always seem to blow up in his face.
Both characters have moments of vulnerability and humanity that make them more than just caricatures of greed. The play’s themes are universal and enduring.
Its critique of capitalism, particularly the notion that success is measured by money, is as relevant today as it was in 1983. Mamet’s portrayal of the American Dream as a cruel illusion that only benefits the few at the expense of the many is a sobering reminder that the system is rigged against most people.
One of the play’s weaknesses is its depiction of women. The female characters are either absent or relegated to marginal roles, reinforcing the stereotype of the woman as a passive spectator to the male drama.
This is a missed opportunity to explore gender dynamics and how they intersect with the play’s themes.
Despite this flaw, Glengarry Glen Ross is a masterful work of literature that deserves its place as a classic of American drama.
It is a scathing commentary on the state of American society and the corrosive effects of capitalism on the human soul. Readers who appreciate tough, uncompromising writing and characters with depth and complexity will find plenty to admire in this play.
Washington Post recommends Glengarry Glen Ross to anyone interested in powerful writing and a searing indictment of the capitalist system. Its mix of humor, tragedy, and biting social critique makes it a must-read for anyone who cares about the state of American society.
We give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.