Sunday, February 28, 2010

Palm Beach DramaWorks: American Buffalo (3 reviews)

Palm Beach DramaWorks opened its production of David Mamet's American Buffalo on February 19, 2010.
In this New York Drama Critic's Circle Award-winner, three small time crooks, who fancy themselves businessmen pursuing legitimate free enterprise, are merely pawns caught up in their own game of dead-end, empty pipe dreams.
William Hayes directed a cast that features Dennis Creaghan, John Leonard Thompson, and Matthew Mueller.

Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
The production at Palm Beach Dramaworks stumbles in its pacing, which robs the play of some of its power.
I sometimes wonder if Jan is seeing the same show as the other reviewers.
Director William Hayes might have given the audience a better ride if he'd dialed down the anger and reined in an over-amped performance from John Leonard Thompson as Teach.

Thompson obviously is a passionate actor, and he's well-cast as Teach, whose short fuse inadequately masks his self-doubt.
This might not be a perfect production, but it captures much of Mamet's dark magic. We don't see much Mamet in South Florida theater. Dramaworks deserves praise for programming this tough, still disturbing, classic play.
That's an odd statement from Jan, considering how many Mamet plays have been and are being staged in South Florida this season. Perhaps she just means "South Florida theatre, if you mean only the theatres within a stone's throw of the Village of Palm Beach." Get off the island, Jan, and visit more than just three of the 30 producing companies in the area.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Director William Hayes has his actors full of pumped-up bravado, paying constant tribute to their homemade ethos.
The actors are finely tuned instruments — there is not a weak link between them, and together they capture wounded pride, bewilderment, and pathological braggadocio as well as it can be captured on a stage. By the end of the second act, Hayes has cranked them into a symphony of suspicion and sorrow that is as lovely as it is sad.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
A season ago on Broadway, a badly miscast production of David Mamet’s American Buffalo cast doubt on the theatrical viability of this 1977 low-rent, high-profanity heist play. But now comes Palm Beach Dramaworks, which usually traffics in neglected classics rather than those with tarnished reputations, to show that this verbal sparring match still has plenty of punch.
With American Buffalo, Mamet established the foul-mouthed, fragmentary, elliptical street poetry that would be his signature style. It can sound artificial, but coming from an accomplished trio of performers under William Hayes’s nimble direction, the language comes off as natural. Every repetitive, misused word of it.
...the play works simply on the strength of it character-rich, ping-ponging dialogue, with no metaphorical leaps necessary.

There is not much plot to American Buffalo, but it is hard to miss that it is the work of a first-class storyteller and that is reason enough to see it.
American Buffalo plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through April 4, 2010.

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