There is a reason Al Pacino is one of the most celebrated actors in America and why David Mamet is one of the most celebrated playwrights.
Put the two together, in the revival of “Glengarry Glen Ross” and it’s great theater.
Bobby Cannavale (TV’s “Nurse Jackie”) plays the role Pacino did 20 years ago, and he’s wonderful or as the actors in this play would say, “f***ing wonderful.”
The play revolves around four salesmen in a real estate office, and they basically speak like longshoremen who were just injured.
Pacino is Shelly, the role Jack Lemon played in the 1992 film. He’s been on a losing streak, and is about to get fired.
He and the other four — hotshot Ricky Roma (Cannavale), enraged Dave (John C. McGinley, Broadway’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight” TV’s “Scrubs”), beaten down George (Richard Schiff unchanged since his “The West Wing”) days, and office manager, John, (David Harbour, Broadway’s “The Merchant of Venice” TV’s “Elementary”) work in a depressing office. Or they hang out a Chinese restaurant downstairs, cruising for easy marks.
Dave and Ricky would likely slice their own grandmothers’ throats to close a deal. Shelly and George seem more human, and, sadly, are less successful.
The four compete to bring in the most sales in what looks to be swampland in Florida. John pushes them to sell, no matter the cost, and he gives them leads. The more they sell, the better the leads, and an incentive is a Cadillac.
But Dave has been having a tough run and he devises a scheme to break into the office and steal the leads.
Each actor gets a chance to shine, a chance to rant. There’s a scene at the end — and if you are lucky enough to have never seen the movie or the play, I am not divulging what happens and why — but Pacino visibly ages on stage. No special effects, just a master actor at work. When Shelly realizes the consequences of his actions, he pales and appears 15 years older.
Incidentally, there’s been a lot of buzz around Broadway because the official opening night was delayed repeatedly until Saturday night and reviews were supposed to be held until Monday (Dec. 10). The initial announcement was that it had to with Superstorm Sandy, but people were saying that the show was not ready.
Exactly why this was delayed I don’t know, but I do know that when the curtain rose on Wednesday’s matinee, everyone was excellent, not a beat was off and this show is why these actors and Mamet are credits to Broadway.