David Mamet’s scorching 1984 drama “Glengarry Glen Ross” has lost none of its incisive bite or blistering dramatic thrust in director Scott Zigler’s McCarter Theater production, the first major revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Zigler has rallied a first-rate ensemble cast for the production, which draws on both published working scripts, leaning more toward the Grove Press edition.
Mamet’s drama of four real estate sharks who’ll do anything and everything to sell a piece of worthless Florida swampland is still a potent theatrical experience. That the playwright could develop such rich characterizations and expansive plot development in 90 minutes of stage time remains a testament to his cunning craftsmanship.
As the weathered Levene, the old-timer on a losing streak, Charles Durning gives a wonderfully grizzled performance. Despite a tentative beginning, he builds a beautifully structured performance that grows in anguish and desperation. A distant cousin of Willy Loman, Durning’s Levene is triumphantly tragic.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, a Tony winner for his performance in “Seven Guitars,” brings a hot-blooded edge to the role of the fast-talking top salesman, and Daniel Benzali (ABC’s “Murder One”) supplies boiling bluster in the role of the shifty salesman who suggests stealing sales leads from the office files to a hapless colleague.
Also on target are Steven Goldstein, as a pathetically gullible client who makes a futile attempt to cancel a deal; Sam Coppola, playing a possible accomplice in a midnight office theft; and Jordan Lage as the shrewd and unemotional office manager.
John Lee Beatty’s designs for the tacky office and a barren restaurant where unscrupulous deals are made evoke a clammy and chilly reality.
“Glengarry” is ripe for a Broadway revival, and one can hardly imagine a better production than this vividly packaged McCarter Theater staging. The precision and unity of the ensemble invest the play with a sleazy grandeur.