Ever since I saw the movie House of Cards in Chicago, I’ve been addicted to David Mamet. That’s not to say that I’ve loved everything, but I do love the way he writes. His patter, sometimes mocked for some of the same reasons that Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing dialogue is mocked, is music to me. Maybe it is because I spent 8 years in Chicago, it is, for me, the way people talk. Granted, it may be more profane and otherwise inappropriate than we’d like to hear, but it is the way people talk.
I have seen the movie version of Glengarry Glen Ross and, as is often the case with Mamet’s work, you can see who can do it and who can’t. So it was at times hard to separate the actors who handled his language well from the characters as I read the play for the first time.
What struck me as I read it this time is that everything matters. There’s not a wasted word. Everything – the stage directions, the dialogue, the pauses – all moves the story forward with this tremendously focused energy that is a hallmark of plays like Race and Oleanna.
If you can read this play, do that. If not, at the very least, see the movie. It’s really, really good.
Charles Ellenbogen is the author of the teaching memoir, THIS ISN’T THE MOVIES: 25 YEARS IN THE CLASSROOM, and teaches high school English in Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio with Kirsten, his wife, Zoe, their daughter, Ezra, their son, Lincoln, their dog, and Chocolate Scales, their snake.