Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet’s rat-a-tat Reagan-era masterpiece about effin’ guys selling the effin’ s— out of effin’ real estate, has never lost its vitality. The Pulitzer — and Tony — winning play still has cojones, and the swagger-rhythms of Mamet’s speech are still timely as the mood swings between cut-throat fury, laughable guy behavior, and sharp pangs of despair. First performed on Broadway in 1984 and adapted in a fine 1992 movie starring Al Pacino, the drama stars Pacino once again, with a twist: Before, he played Ricky Roma, the company’s slick pro at closing deals. Now the star, looking small and gray and on the edge of seedy, takes on Shelly ”the Machine” Levene, the desperate older company man in a sales slump.
The good news is that the rest of the cast — including John C. McGinley, Richard Schiff, David Harbour, and a hard-charging Bobby Cannavale as Roma, his hair slicked and his fingers stabbing the air — is aces. The bad news is that what Pacino does as Shelly — one assumes with the tacit agreement of director Daniel Sullivan — appears to be entirely up to Pacino’s whim minute to minute. And the guy’s got a lot of whims, some left over from the 2010 revival of The Merchant of Venice (also directed by Sullivan): He goes in for shlemiel-size shrugging. He pats his hair obsessively. He lurches. And these actorly notions eff up the rest of the effin’ ensemble as they sell sell sell the hell out of Mamet’s prize real estate. B