Tuesday, October 21, 2008

American Buffalo

American Buffalo by David Mamet
Presented by Mom and Dad Productions at the Athenaeum

Sometimes it's fun to see a professional production of a play you say done in college. Never to knock a college production - and certainly not the portrayal that I saw - it is always enlightening to see age appropriate actors in their roles. Certain power relationships and relationships in general are important to the story of the play and lost when actors don't fit the prescribed age of the the role.

Mom and Dad Productions did a lovely job in bringing to life the resale-shop of Mamet's imagination. One nice thing about this production is they took no restraints in embracing their Chicago roots and making this a play that resides in Chicago, as it was written. Seeing it this time makes me believe that the play has some faults. The first act draws on and does little to make me excited about the robbery that the two main characters are planning. Both productions second act were much stronger than all of the exposition of the first - so I will start to chalk this up to slow pace and some long-winded-ness in the dialogue.

I cannot talk about this production without tipping my hat to the wonderful performance of Jeremy O. Harris as Bobby. Harris is only a sophomore at DePaul University, but his fully realized portrayal of the slow-witted adolescent that the resale shop owner keeps around to run errands. There wasn't a moment in Harris' performance that wasn't spot on leading him to remarkable sympathy by the end of the night.

I also have to tip my hat to the detailed lighting design of Matthew Chapman - he took the time to rigging up lighting to mimic a traffic light in the window of the shop. A small detail that wasn't necessary and probably went unnoticed by most patrons - but went a long way towards creating a complete and realistic world.

Overall the evening was a delight. I suggest that you get out to see it before it closes on November 1.

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