Mamet, David. Glengarry Glen Ross.
John Williamson: a manager of the real estate office, responsible for distributing houses for sale among agents
Shelly Levene: formerly a successful real estate agent, now failing in the business, big talker but weak worker
David Moss: a moderately successful real estate agent, sly weaver of plots
George Aaronow: an unexceptional real estate agent
Richard Roma: a highly successful real estate agent, ruthless, immoral, and manipulative, persuasive speaker
James Lingk: Roma's customer, timid, an easy prey
Baylen: a detective
Mitch and Murray: the bosses of the real estate agency, do not appear in person but are often talked about
All of the characters are middle-aged men. Williamson, Baylen, Roma, and Lingk are in their early forties; Levene, Moss, and Aaronow are in their fifties.
Act One, Scene One.
Levene Asks Williamson for Help: The real estate agent Shelly Levene sits with the office manager John Williamson in a booth in a Chinese restaurant. Levene complains about his getting no more "leads", well selling estates, due to which he cannot reach good sales. He pleads Williamson to give him a chance, appealing to his emotions by mentioning his daughter. He points out his former success as a top salesman, there were times when he could have decided about keeping Williamson in his job or dismissing him. Now it is the other way round. Williamson insists on his being unable to assist because he has his orders from the bosses Mitch and Murray. Levene tries to bribe him by offering to share the profit from his sales. Williamson is willing to negotiate but the outcome of the bargain is uncertain as Levene does not have the cash that Williamson asks in advance.
Act One, Scene Two.
Moss Plans Robbery with Aaronow: The fellow real estate agents George Aaronow and David Moss sit in another booth in the Chinese restaurant. Aaronow is depressed about his having missed a big sale and so making himself a candidate to be dismissed. The bosses Mitch and Murray have created an atmosphere of pressure and fierce competition in the agency by introducing a sales contest at the end of which the most successful agent wins a Cadillac and two of the least successful will be fired. Moss is fed up with giving the ninety percent of his profit away to the agency when he could work on his own like the rival agency manager Jerry Graff. He intimates to the sceptical Aaronow his plan. He will rob his employer's office, steal the list of the leads, and sell them to Graff.
Aaronow: "Because, because, you know, it's a crime."
Moss: "That's right. It's a crime. It is a crime. It's also very safe."
Aaronow: "You're actually talking about this?"
Moss: "That's right." (Pause).
Aaronow: "You're going to steal the leads?"
Moss: "Have I said that?" (Pause).
Moss was promised to get a better job with Graff if he sells him the leads. He therefore cannot steal them himself as he would become the prime suspect. He offers Aaronow to share half of the cash paid by Graff for the leads if Aaronow steals them for him. Aaronow is unwilling but Moss announces that by having told him, he has made him his accomplice already.
Act One, Scene Three.
Roma Persuades Lingk to Purchase: The real estate agent Richard Roma sits alone in a booth in the Chinese restaurant and talks to a man in the neighbouring booth. Roma holds a long soliloquy arguing for the non-existence of morality, for the necessity of coming to terms with one's sins and living on with them, for active stance to life and seizing the occasion, for getting rid of fears of disasters that cannot be prevented, etc.
Roma: "...Some poor newly married guy gets run down by a cab. Some busboy wins the lottery. (Pause). All it is, it's a carnival. ..."
Only after some time he introduces himself to the man, James Lingk, and makes him listen to his eloquently argued offer of a real estate.
The Office is Robbed: The real estate office has been robbed. Detective Baylen examines the site. Williamson and Aaronow are present. Roma was told about the robbery by Moss and he rushes in, anxious to know whether his contracts were stolen too. His last contract, the one with Lingk, ensured him the top position on the contest board and so made him the winner of the Cadillac. He calms down only when he learns that the big contract was not stolen and that his prize is secure, though he will have to reclose some of the smaller contracts. Aaronow worries whether the office was insured and is content to learn from Williamson that it certainly was.
Levene Closes a Contract: Levene storms into the office. He is overjoyed because he has just closed a big contract with Bruce and Harriet Nyborg, which entitles him to be put on the contest board. He boasts with his success and describes in detail how the contract was signed to Roma, who does not object to listening to him. Levine managed to persuade the reluctant couple with very aggressive methods, including psychological manipulation, pressing, and blackmailing. Williamson is sceptical about Levene's achievement but the now self-confident agent talks back and demands to be entrusted with the leads.
The Agents are Interrogated: Moss appears from the inner room where he was being interrogated by the detective. Everyone must take his turn in the questioning. Moss complains about his having been treated like a thief. There is a confrontation between Moss and Roma. Moss is apparently jealous of Roma's business success, whereas Roma accuses Moss of being nothing but a big mouth. Moss leaves, professedly to Wisconsin. When Aaronow returns from the interrogation, he is angry at the treatment on the part of the detective. He insists on his not having robbed the office. He inquires after Moss but Williamson sends him away to have a lunch.
Aaronow: "I meet gestapo tactics... I meet gestapo tactics. ... That's not right. ... No man has the right to... 'Call an attorney,' that means you're guilt... you're under sus... 'Co...', he says, 'cooperate' or we'll go downtown. That's not... as long as I've..."
Williamson: (Bursting out of his office) "Will you get out of here. Will you get out of here. Will you. I'm trying to run an office here. Will you go to lunch? Go to lunch. Will you go to lunch?" (Retreats into office).
Lingk Cancels his Contract: Roma catches the sight of Lingk approaching the office. He quickly tells Levene to act as if he were an important customer and Roma his agent. Levene does as he is instructed. Lingk has come to cancel the contract and get the money back because his wife disagrees with the business. Roma makes use of a wide range of tactics to deny Lingk his right to cancel the contract within three days. He acts as if he did not understood, then he tries acting as Lingk's best friend, he humiliates him by suggesting he is henpecked, he tries to appeal to his pride and blackmail him, etc.
Roma: "I'm very sorry, Jimmy. I apologize to you."
Lingk: "It's not me, it's my wife."
Roma: (Pause). "What is?"
Lingk: "I told you."
Roma: "Tell me again."
Lingk: "What's going on here?"
Roma: "Tell me again. Your wife."
Lingk: "I told you."
Roma: "You tell me again."
Williamson happens to overhear and unwittingly spoils Roma's effort by assuring Lingk that his cheque was cashed while Roma claimed that it was not a minute before. Lingk quickly leaves the office to call a state attorney. Roma bitterly reproaches Williamson for having marred a big transaction and his chance to win the Cadillac.
The Robber is Revealed: Levine, who witnessed the situation, harshly blames Williamson for his lack of professionalism. He advises him to make sure that it helps the next time when he makes up something. Williamson lied about the cheque, it was not cashed as usually but was left lying at his desk. Only the robber could know this therefore Williamson concludes that Levine is the robber. Levine confesses but he names Moss as the one who organized the crime. Williamson is ready to deliver Levine to the detective. Levine tries to bribe Williamson, offering him to share his profit and reminding him of the big deal that he has made with the Nyborgs. Williamson however informs him that the Nyborgs are insane people with no money. Williamson tells Levine that he never liked him and disappears in the office to give him in. Roma, oblivious about what has just happened, offers Levine a business partnership. Aaronow reappears, wondering whether the robber has been caught. Levine is called in the office and Roma leaves, telling Levine to join him at the restaurant when he is finished.
All of the real estate agents, perhaps with the exception of Roma, sound Jewish. Their dialogues are fragmentary, broken, often cut off in the middle and overlapping. Roma's soliloquies are in contrast flowery and elaborate. Important words are emphasized by italics, the characters often qualify their meaning and use special meanings given by the context of the situation. The dialogues abound in four-letter words. Professional jargon is used.
The play vividly portrays the ruthless world of real estate business where agents are the predators and prospective customers are the preys. The line between immorality and illegality is very thin: Roma's aggressive selling methods are immoral but his attempt to deny Lingk his right to cancel the contract verges on illegality. The play features no female characters, various male characters are explored instead: Roma is the successful manipulator without moral scruples; Levine the business failure tough a big mouth; Aaronow the passive observer; Moss the intriguer.
AuthorMamet, David. (b. 1947).
Full TitleGlengarry Glen Ross.
First PerformedLondon: The Cottlesloe Theatre, 1983.