Gritty characters take the lead in sales masterpiece

Chris Wasser

It's all about the leads. And perfecting the art of bulls**t. Which is something that Richard Roma is spectacularly good at. Shelley Levene -- his ageing colleague -- can only rely on desperation. But Roma is a unique brand. He believes his own lies. He plays them out, pulls you in and buys you a drink. Before sealing the deal.

The others could learn a thing or two from the guy. But you wouldn't want a play full of Romas. It would be too cold -- too slick, even. No, what Glengarry Glen Ross needs is a whole bag of wind-up characters. And that's exactly what it's got.

There's the would-be criminal, Dave Moss (Denis Conway); the nice guy who listened too much, George Aaronow (Barry McGovern), and their boss, John Williamson (John Cronin). And then, of course, there are Shelley (Owen Roe) and Roma (Reg Rogers). Stick them all in the same room and watch as the sparks fly.

Shrug your shoulders and accept that a tepid first half is merely a set-up for the main event. Take the story (estate agents down on their luck) and forget about the fact that, well, not a lot happens. The real gem here is what these American chancers do when they are in each other's company.

It's the way that they talk -- the language they use. And it's a remarkable piece of work; a gritty snapshot of a rundown office, crumbling under the weight of its employees' lack of skills, hope, and support. The dialogue shines with David Mamet's beautifully profane script boasting some of the finest one-liners, monologues and insults you're ever likely to come across.

The office may be Roma's workplace, but it's also Rogers' playground. And he owns it. That is, whenever Owen Roe isn't around. Yep, the show truly belongs to Shelley's beyond-the-brink antics, with an outstanding Roe turning in a memorable performance. And his leads. Because it's all about the leads. Without them, these poor salesmen are nothing. But with Mamet's masterpiece safe in the hands of an accomplished cast, the rest of us are that little bit richer. HHHHI

Running at the Gate Theatre until July 14