Theatre Mirror Reviews - "American Buffalo"

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note: entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark

"American Buffalo"

by David Mamet
Directed by Rick Lombardo

Set Design by Janie Fliegel
Lighting Design by John Malinowski
Costume Design by Nancy Lynn Leary
Stage Manager Johnnie Steele

Donny Dubrow...............Ken Baltin
Bobby..................Brian McManamon
Walter Cole (Teach).....Michael Cecchi

So ya wanna know what it's about? Okay, I'll tell ya what's it about. It's a classic! It's about: three men and a coin, that's what's it about. 'Cept this Bobby ain't ezzactly what ya'd call a man. Let's just say even though he don't hide no more if the truant officer comes round the corner he ain't hung no sheepskin on the wall. Fact is, this Brian McManamon they got playin Bobby's doin his first gig with a card. (EQUITY Card! Actors' Equity! What I gotta do, spell everything out f'ya f'cripes sake?)

Anyway either the kid ain't too bright or maybe he can't concentrate; he certainly flinches any time somebody mentions shooting or skin-pops and he's a grade A f___up. (Okay, SCREWup if ya want, but these guys got only One adverb and they use it all the time cause it's an F-word world they live in an' if you can't deal with common everyday conversational speech how'm I gonna tell you what's it about, Hanh? I mean, we're talkin a play that's all about language here, so don't distract me, okay?)

So Bobby's always down in the shop because Donny's doin this mentor thing, tryin'a wise him up a little, give him little jobs, a little responsibility, little "loans" now an then. Whaddya mean who's Donny? Donny Dubrow? Don's Resale Shop inna basement at 13 an a half...? Yeah, That Donny. The kinda big, careful, no-nonsense but mentoring kinda guy you'd want Ken Baltin to play. You seen 'im around --- Merrimack Rep, Gloucester Stage, Nora Theatre --- so that's Donny.

An'en there's Teach. He's a firecracker, he is. He's the kinda guy you say why are you late, Walt, he'll be in your face in a second yellin ain't his fault his fu.. his bleepin watch just broke, an' it's only an hour later you find out he hocked his bleepin' watch. An he's wired! I mean, Walt's so fired up any minute the whole place is gonna explode and there'll be blood and shrapnel everywhere. They went ta New York to get Michael Cecchi cause he's such a powerhouse his Walt is in continual ninety- mile-an-hour motion! Who's Walt? Teach is Walt. People call Walter Cole Teach! Ya never hearda nicknames?

Look, yer never gonna get anywhere with this show until you lose your hangup with words! Don't listen to what anybody says, listen to what everybody means. Cause these guys are always talkin ratatat like bleepin machineguns an after a while, I swear, you stop hearin any words and begin hearin the music of the words. I mean, an actor can say "Think it's gonna rain?" and you'll hear "What the hell do you know, screw-up!" It's a kinda subtext thing actors do. Good actors.

Although, tell you the truth, I think the real power behind all this is the director, Rick Lombardo --- skinny little kid from New York, puts flour in his hair to make himself look more mature. His prints are all over this show, like the clenched, scared tension in Bobby's body, like the smooth, breakneck pace that slows so subtly you don't realize it, like that music that becomes more important than anything through the night. And no, I am Not saying Lombardo is a bleepin Svengali takes three snot- nosed amateurs fresh outa B.U. and turns em all into Brando's. What I am saying is I've seen a lotta actors walk across that little New Rep stage this season, and maybe they weren't all directed by Lombardo but every one of them have given me that same solidly alive feeling. I'm saying maybe as Artistic Director he has the smarts to find good people who can deliver and then sees to it they work together and never screw up. And I'm saying a good director makes me forget there ever was a playwright, so I think I'm lookin through the wall at people making up the lines in a life makes more sense than real life ever can.

But, no, I did Not say there's no playwright. Mamet is the playwright, okay? David bleepin Mamet. Yeah, movies. Screw movies, we're talkin playwright here. I even heard a play for kids of his on Weekend Edition, WBUR once. And so what if it sucked, you write plays all the time not every one can be gems.

But this --- this, is a gem. And don't just lissen ta me. If I was you I wouldn't sit around readin some half-assed reviewer's opinion on a VDT screen. If I was you I'd drop a token on the Riverside line, go out to Newton Highlands and see for yourself, because truth stands up. You go, then you come back you tell me am I right, or am I Right! (But take a bag fulla quarters cause they soak you two damn dollars ta bring you back, and the MBTA ain't never hearda two-dollar bills.)

So you go. Cause this is a gem. Three men and a coin. A classic.

A bleepin classic.



54 Lincoln Street, NEWTON HIGHLANDS
till 13 April

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