Last week, a play titled “Glengarry Glen Ross” was held in the Black Box of the Quick Center for the Arts. A work of historical significance and popular movie adaptation starring big time actors including Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris and Jonathan Pryce, the show was nearly sold out.
The entire cast was comprised of Fairfield University faculty. They gave a commanding performance that left mostly everyone in the audience somewhere between stunned and speechless. The original screenplay writer, David Mamet, envisioned a play that would center on the idea of capitalism and individual corruption.
The play is about real estate salesmen in Florida and their desire for profit. From the first few seconds of the play to the final scene, the audience observes a group of salesmen who are driven by greed and the desire to dominate their co-workers. They are all materialistic. The salesmen stoop to any level to ensure their own security and future success.
In the beginning of the play, the workers are being yelled at by their boss who brags about himself and his possessions and told them what they need to do in order to survive in the real estate business. Every scene was filled with profanity and harsh verbal exchanges between the characters, which gave the audience an idea of what was to come later in the play.
The two main characters in the play, John and Shelly, are co-workers and friends. But when Shelly finds himself in a jam and without any leads to sell houses, he turns to John, who at first won’t help him. After deliberating for a while, John agrees to help him, but at a cost to Shelly. This demonstrates that money and greed are more important than friendship to these salesmen.
Later, the office is robbed and the sales leads are missing. It is later revealed that Shelly is the culprit. It could be interpreted that the pressures of being in the real estate business are too much for Shelly, which prompted his actions.
Junior Hannah Patridge said, “I really enjoyed the play. All the actors did a great job of highlighting what happens when your job starts to change you.” She went on to emphasize “when the corporate world makes you do things you never thought you would do.”
This play outlined how difficult it is to work in a corporate setting such as this. Not only did the play exceed expectations, it taught that good decision making is always the key to being successful in the work place.
The set was simple and altered by the actors as the play continued. The characters and the circumstances they faced were unforgettable, which truly reflected David Mamet’s mindset of how he envisioned his play in action. It was a great depiction of how greed and power plays a major role in society, and the play gave an interesting perspective of how easily it can overtake and change people’s lives.
After the play ended Thursday night, there was a brief discussion with the audience. Dr. Kevin Cassidy of the politics department expressed his view that the salesmen had to be ruthless in order to survive. He referenced Karl Marx’s idea that capitalism is highly individualistic and connected it to this play.
“I saw this as this critique of capitalism. This is about the fact of what capitalism is,” said Cassidy. “That’s exactly what the problem is.”
Capitalism has its perks and faults. It serves as a great system for businesses to get started and allows for competition to exist in our society. Unfortunately, it can also bring out negative qualities in people and becomes the foundation for greed and power. This play shows the fine line between the good and bad in capitalism and demonstrates the importance of integrity and selflessness that should exist in the workplace.

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