Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1982 play written by David Mamet. The play shows parts of two days in the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts—from lies and flattery to bribery, threats, intimidation and burglary—to sell undesirable real estate to unwitting prospective buyers. The play draws partly on Mamet's experiences of life in a Chicago real estate office, where he worked briefly in the late 1960s. The title of the play comes from the names of two of the real estate developments being peddled by the salesmen characters, Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms.[1]

The world premiere was at the National Theatre in London on September 21, 1983, where Bill Bryden's production in the Cottesloe was acclaimed as a triumph of ensemble acting.[2]

The play opened on Broadway on March 25, 1984 and closed on February 17, 1985. The production was directed by Gregory Mosher and starred Joe Mantegna, Mike Nussbaum, Robert Prosky, Lane Smith, James Tolkan, Jack Wallace and J. T. Walsh. The production was nominated for four Tony awards including Best Play, Best Director, and two Best Featured Actor nominations for Robert Prosky and Joe Mantegna, who won the production's one Tony.



Richard "Ricky" Roma
The most successful salesman in the office. Although Roma seems to think of himself as a latter day cowboy and regards his ability to make a sale as a sign of his virility, he admits only to himself it is all luck. He is ruthless, dishonest and immoral, but succeeds because he has a talent for figuring out a client's weaknesses and crafting a pitch that will exploit those weaknesses.
He is a smooth talker and often speaks in grand, poetic soliloquies.
Shelley "The Machine" Levene
An older, once-successful salesman, has fallen on hard times and has not closed a big deal in a long time. In Mamet's original 1982 stage version, Levene mentions his daughter as a final ploy to gain Williamson's sympathy in order to get better leads. However, in the 1992 film version, Levene's discussion of his daughter also includes comments about her poor health (as seen in a cutaway phone conversation) in order to gain additional sympathy from Williamson.
James Lingk
A timid, middle-aged man who becomes Roma's latest client. Lingk is easily manipulated and finds Roma highly charismatic.
John Williamson
The office manager and main antagonist. The salesmen despise Williamson and look down on him, but need him desperately because he's the one who hands out the sales leads.
George Aaronow
An aging salesman with low self-esteem who lacks confidence and hope. A follower who lacks the ability to stand on his own.
Dave Moss
A big-mouthed salesman with big dreams and schemes. Moss resents Williamson, Mitch and Murray for putting such pressure on him and plans to strike back at them by stealing all their best sales leads and selling them to a competitor. Moss sees Aaronow as a potential accomplice.
A police detective. He appears in the final act to investigate the office break-in and interrogate each cast member behind closed doors.
Mitch and Murray
These unseen characters are the owners of the real estate agency. They have set up a cruel sales "contest" that has put enormous pressure on the salesmen to produce or to lose their jobs.

Act I

Setting: a Chinese restaurant

Scene 1: Shelley Levene tries to convince office Manager John Williamson to give him some of "the Glengarry leads" (names and phone numbers of promising potential clients for expensive properties). Williamson is willing to sell some of the prime leads, but demands cash in advance. Levene cannot come up with the cash and must leave without any good leads to work with.

Scene 2: Dave Moss and George Aaronow hate the pressure management has put on them to succeed. Moss tells Aaronow that they need to strike back by stealing all the Glengarry leads and selling them to another real estate agency. Moss's plan would require Aaronow to break into the office, stage a burglary, and steal all the prime leads. Aaronow wants no part of the plan, but Moss intimidates him, claiming that he is already an accomplice simply by listening to Moss's pitch.

Scene 3: Ricky Roma delivers a monologue to James Lingk. Roma does not bring up the real estate he wants to sell to Lingk until the very end. Instead, Roma preys upon Lingk's insecurities, and his sense that he has never done anything adventurous with his life.

Act II

Setting: a real estate sales office

The burglary is discovered. Williamson has called in a police detective. Shelley Levene is happy, because he has finally sold a large plot of land to a couple named Nyborg. James Lingk enters the office, looking for Ricky Roma. Lingk's wife has ordered him to cancel the sales contract he signed with Roma. Roma attempts to trick Lingk into not cancelling the contract; Levene supports the ruse, but Williamson accidentally ruins Roma's ploy.

Roma is furious at Williamson, who has blown a big sale. Levene picks up where Roma left off, and begins insulting Williamson. Williamson realizes then that Levene must have been the thief and threatens to tell his suspicions to the police detective. Levene folds, and admits that he and Dave Moss were the thieves. When Roma comes back from his interrogation, Williamson goes to tell the detective that Moss and Levene are the thieves. Roma, who has no idea what just went on between Williamson and Levene, proposes to Levene that they should form their own partnership. Shelley smiles sadly, and agrees, knowing that he is going to be arrested any moment. The detective comes out and calls Levene's name. Levene meekly walks away with the detective.

Roma, now alone with Williamson, confirms their arrangement: he has not only been paying for the lucrative Glengarry leads, but he has also convinced Williamson to give Levene the worst leads in an effort to sabotage him.


There was controversy over lines in the play, and in the movie adaptation of it, in which it was claimed prejudice was shown against people from India.[3] As a result, Mamet removed the language from the latest Broadway revival. The controversial dialogue is included in the movie version about a potential lead from the Patels, a family from India.[4]


The world premiere of Glengarry Glen Ross was in 1982 and later opened at Cottesloe Theatre of the Royal National Theatre in London on 21 September 1983, directed by Bill Bryden.

Cast and characters:

Glengarry Glen Ross premiered in the United States at the Goodman Theatre of the Arts Institute of Chicago in a Chicago Theatre Groups, Inc. production on February 6, 1984. The play opened on Broadway on March 25, 1984 at the John Golden Theatre, in a production directed by Gregory Mosher. The original American cast is below, with Lane Smith replacing William L. Petersen on Broadway.

Cast and characters:

The play received numerous Tony Award nominations, including those for the director, Mosher, and actors Prosky and Mantegna, with Mantegna winning in the Best Featured Actor category.

In 2005, Glengarry Glen Ross was revived on Broadway, opening on May 1, 2005 at the Bernard B Jacobs Theatre (formerly the Royale Theatre), in a production directed by Joe Mantello.

Cast and characters:

The revival received numerous Tony Award nominations, including Best Featured Actor nominations for Alda, Clapp and Schreiber, with Schreiber taking home the prize. The production also won a Tony for Best Revival of a Play.

On September 27, 2007, the play was revived at the Apollo Theatre, London, starring Jonathan Pryce (who played client James Lingk in the 1992 film adaptation) as Shelley, alongside Aidan Gillen (Roma), Paul Freeman (George), Matthew Marsh (Dave) and Peter McDonald (Williamson). The production was directed by James Macdonald.

Glengarry Glen Ross has also been produced as a radio play for BBC Radio 3, featuring Hector Elizondo, Stacy Keach, Bruce Davison and Alfred Molina as Roma, first airing March 20, 2005.

Film adaptation

The 1992 film adaptation directed by James Foley was released using an expanded script featuring a role specifically written for Alec Baldwin.[1]

Awards and nominations

  • 1984 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play
  • 1984 Tony Award for Best Play


  1. a b . . Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  2. Programme note by critic Michael Coveney for the 2007 London revival at the Apollo Theatre
  3. Craig, P. (27 February 2004). . Contra Costa Times. Archived from on 2004-07-26. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  4. Wikiquotes (26 December 2007). . . Retrieved 2008-09-18.