Theatre Review: American Buffalo

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, April 13, 2009

“American Buffalo” is a play set in a junk shop, crammed with discards, including a funky old drum set, and worn out appliances. Three guys in t-shirts and dirty pants wander through, sipping coffee while they discuss a heist. One guy wants to cut the youngest member of the threesome out of the deal.

“Don, I want to go in there and GUT this m*****-f*****, Don, where is the shame in this? You take care of the kid. Fine. Now this is loyalty. But Bobby’s got his own best self-interests, too.  And all I’m saying… you cannot afford to… and simply as a business proposition, you cannot afford to take that CHANCE.”

These guys aren’t sinister, they’re small time and inept. They also pop loose with enough four-letter words to fill a dictionary. A critic once described Mamet’s style as “seething with impeccably timed profanity.” This show is the proof. The dialog is coarse, it’s in your face, and in the case of this production it’s also rendered with breathtaking skill by Capital Stage regulars Jonathan Rhys Williams and Peter Mohrmann. They act up such a blue streak that you forget that there’s little action in this wordy drama, set entirely in one room. “American Buffalo” isn’t going to appeal to everybody. But if you’re looking for a testosterone-driven drama, which now stands a landmark work by a major playwright, “American Buffalo” is a good pick.

(music out)

"American Buffalo" continues at Capital Stage in Old Sacramento through April 26th.