Theater Review: 'Glengarry Glen Ross' -- 2.5 stars
Glengarry Glen Ross
Remember the good old days when David Mamet wrote muscular, expletive-filled dramas instead of lifeless, didactic polemics with stick figure characters?
Last week, "The Anarchist," Mamet's two-hander starring Patti LuPone as a prisoner and Debra Winger as her warden, opened to pans.
But just a few feet away is a revival of "Glengarry Glen Ross," Mamet's Pulitzer-winning expose of a ruthless, unscrupulous and altogether desperate pack of Chicago real estate salesmen.
Unlike "The Anarchist," which will close this coming weekend at a total financial loss, "Glengarry" has been grossing more than a million dollars a week during its long preview period thanks to Al Pacino's star power.
While Daniel Sullivan's staging of "Glengarry" is unquestionably superior to "The Anarchist," it is marred by an abundance of over-the-top performances.
Pacino plays Shelly Levene, a former high seller who is now on the verge of being canned due to a dry streak.
Two years ago, Pacino delivered a deeply felt, idiosyncratic performance as Shylock in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," also directed by Sullivan.
While Pacino aims for the same wild theatricality here, it comes off as excessive, awkward and rather kooky.
His bulging eyes and unkempt hair look especially ridiculous. And Pacino's slow line readings dilute the play's intensity and pace.
Other cast members follow suit with excessive performances. John C. McGinley ("Scrubs") is just plain whiny as Moss, who wants to strike back against his employer, while Richard Schiff ("The West Wing") overplays knee-shaking nervousness as Aaronow.
But the production does feature one especially strong performance. As hotshot Ricky Roma, the role that Pacino played in the film version of "Glengarry," Bobby Cannavale positively oozes with style and a sexy, devilish charm.
If you go: "Glengarry Glen Ross" is playing at Schoenfeld Theatre through Jan. 20, 236 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200, telecharge.com.