Monday, December 14, 2009

American Buffalo

Steppenwolf Theatre's production of David Mamet's American Buffalo once again that this play is an excellent vehicle for strong performances. Tracy Letts performance as Teach is superb and is the driving force of this show.

While the script is beloved as one of Mamet's best, I have a hard time relating to the story. Sure there is a intense moment that has an emotional impact towards the end of the play, but what do we really learn as an audience. What is the journey that we are taken on through the whole story that leaves us better or changed at the end of the play. The whole cathartic moment, if you can call you that, is simply a case of paranoia and misunderstanding and peoples shops and potentially lives are wrecked from it. That may be the answer I am looking for, but Mamet's characters are so far from being real that I have a hard time relating to them and empathizing with their situations. The whole final effect seems somehow manipulative.

However, that is my problem with the script in general. This play, however, seems to attract wonderful performances. Every time I have seen this in live performance, I come away thoroughly enjoying the show despite the problems with the script. Steppenwolf's production is no exception. Amy Morton's excellent direction kept up the pace of the extremely difficult dialogue and for the first time I never got bogged down in how "talky" the play is. Francis Guinan and Patrick Andrews turn in admirable performances, but the whole even truly revolved around Letts. He worked so hard to make the dialogue and monologues seem effortless that for this particular production, Teach seemed to become the main character, where that isn't always the case.

This is one of the best productions this review has seen this year. If you are looking for a gift for a theatre-loving friend of your, I would highly suggest sending them to the Steppenwolf for this wonderful performance.

Happy Birthday: George Furth (1932-2008)

1 comment:

  1. For a bit of a counter-point