Glengarry Glen Ross: Touted as a ‘comedy’ and praised as being ‘funny’, Glengarry Glen Ross is neither, but rather a tragic examination of a group of salesmen struggling to make ends meat and willing to do just about anything to get ahead. The play though, being read next to the film adaptation (which stars the likes of Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon and Al Pacino), offers less humanity and fails to builds sympathy for its characters. The play portrays these same characters, but with greed their only ambition, they are less sympathetic than their film counterparts, and the famous motivational speech made in the film by Alec Baldwin is absent from the play.
Oleanna is an examination of the idea that our perceptions are our reality. It tells the story of a teacher who tries to be sympathetic to a student who is struggling in one of his classes, and how his efforts are misconstrued as sexual advances that lead ultimately to a rape accusation that costs the teacher his job and incites him to lose his control and unleash his anger upon the accuser who ultimately turns him into the monster he abhors.
In both plays Mamet allows the narratives to be told sometimes in the absence of dialogue, with pauses and unfinished sentences and half heard conversations, a tool which though effective at times, also causes some confusion.