My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Look. Look. Are you LISTENing to me? I’m not some Brooklyn beggar, okay? I’m not some fucking Oberlin grad with a hunnerd fucking grand in fucking debt and rent a coupla grand a month. I’m not some fucking slave in the clickbait content factory, that’s the God’s truth, okay? You think I read this fucking play because it’s in the fucking news? No. No. NO! I didn’t go to fucking Sarah Lawrence and I don’t write for fucking Vice, you got it? My reading isn’t dictated by the fucking news…I don’t have to mention fucking Trump in every review for them sweet resistance clicks, okay? Okay? I had personal reasons…don’t ask…you don’t want to know…trust me.
So how is it, you’re wondering? There’s craft here, that’s for damn sure. Guy could craft a fucking play. They could do it in those days, man…not like now. Three short scenes for set-up, then a tour-de-fucking-force, FORCE, I’m fucking telling you, when it all comes together in Act Two. Goes off like fucking fireworks…take that to the fucking bank…everybody coming and going and getting what’s coming to them.
What’s it all about? Real estate guys, if you can believe it. Older guys at the end of their fucking rope, upstaged by the younger guys and the newer way of doing things…getting so desperate they start to think about fucking larceny, man. Themes? Look, listen, pay some fucking attention for once in your life…if you think this play is a put-down on capitalism you really got another thing coming to you. It’s nostalgia, okay…Death of a Salesman shit. Once upon a time you had to go out there and talk to people and know how the world worked to sell some fucking real estate. You were a warrior…you were a knight. And now it’s all smooth talking business guys…enough to make you sick.
Roma: “Always be closing…”
Levene: That’s what I’m saying. The old ways. The old ways…convert the motherfucker…sell him…sell him…make him sign the check.
Ellipses in fucking original, you know?
Anyway…subtext? Subtext? Something ethnic, I think. Touchy fucking subject, I know. But look at the last names, okay? Who’s the fucking boss, fucking up our heroes’ lives? Williamson. WASP name, you got it? And our heroes: fucking Levene, fucking Roma. Might as well get Scaramucci in here, if you know what I mean. Italians, Jews. Immigrants’ kids, strivers. The by-their-fucking-bootstraps crew. That whole scrappy generation. Getting wiped out of the business. Out of business. Gentrified, they call it these days. GENTRIFIED. Enough subtext for you?
Finally, how’s the style? It’s a fucking style. Way the fuck too much of one, probably. Easy to parody. PARODY, okay? It’s a cheap fucking shot, I know. Below the belt. Kick in the balls. Easiest trick in the book. But still. Still. It’s like fashion…you get this much style, you’ll get imitators. Sincerest form of fucking flattery. Anybody can use the italics, the all CAPS. And the ellipses…don’t get me started on the ellipses…and then put in the fucking F-word every other fucking word. But there’s style and there’s style. Mamet can do things with it. Fucking lyrical, I’d call it. Listen. Just listen:
Roma: And what is it that we’re afraid of? Loss. What else? (Pause.) The bank closes. We get sick, my wife died on a plane, the stock market collapsed…the house burnt down…what of these happen…? None of ’em. We worry anyway. What does this mean? I’m not secure. How can I be secure? (Pause.) Through amassing wealth beyond all measure? No. And what’s beyond all measure? That’s a sickness. That’s a trap. There is no measure. Only greed. How can we act? The right way, we would say, to deal with this: “There is a one-in-a-million chance that so and so will happen…Fuck it, it won’t happen to me…” No. We know that’s not the right way I think. (Pause.) We say the correct way to deal with this is “There is a one-in-so-and-so chance this will happen…God protect me. I am powerless, let it not happen to me…” But no to that. I say. There’s something else. What is it? “If it happens, AS IT MAY for that is not within our powers, I will deal with it, just as I do today with what draws my concern today.” I say this is how we must act. I do those things which seem correct to me today. I trust myself. And if security concerns me, I do that which today I think will make me secure. And every day I do that, when that day arrives that I need a reserve, (a) odds are that I have it, and (b) the true reserve that I have is the strength that I have of acting each day without fear. (Pause.) According to the dictates of my mind. (Pause.) Stocks, bonds, objects of art, real estate. Now: what are they? (Pause.) An opportunity. To what? To make money? Perhaps. To lose money? Perhaps. To “indulge” and to “learn” about ourselves? Perhaps. So fucking what? What isn’t? They’re an opportunity. That’s all. They’re an event. A guy comes up to you, you make a call, you send in a brochure, it doesn’t matter, “There’re these properties I’d like for you to see.” What does it mean? What you want it to mean.
You call it a crook selling real estate…I call it American fucking literature. We could be standing at Walden Pond with this shit. “According to the dictates of my mind”! I’m talking about self-reliance, okay? Okay. You call it cheating, I call it art. I don’t know about you, but I am SOLD.