Friday, February 26, 2016

Review of American Buffalo at Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called American Buffalo. It was by David Mamet and directed by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia. It was about this guy named Don (Richard Cotovsky) who owned a resale shop. But he wasn’t just a junk shop owner; he was also a crook. He has a “friend” named Teach (Stephen Walker), who pretends to be tough all the time, but he really has a softer spot and is kind of a wimp. And Don also has a friend named Bobby (Rudy Galvan) that he is kind of a father figure to, but he is not very good at being a father figure. It is called American Buffalo because they are trying to steal back a Buffalo coin, which is very unfair because Don sold the man this coin. This play is about the vagaries of friendship, trusting other people, and all the emotions. I thought this was a great show. I absolutely loved the acting, and the story was great too. It was very intriguing and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time--or off my seat because I was laughing so hard.

Don and Bobby have a father-son relationship. They kind of take care of each other. Donny is trying to give Bobby a better life by giving him advice about what he should eat and how he should behave in different situations. They talk about how Bobby shouldn't skip breakfast and how he should eat healthy. Bobby brings Don yogurt and Don says he should have gotten himself something. And Don says he should go get himself a yogurt. But then Bobby comes back with a Pepsi and some pie, which is not a healthy breakfast at all. And I'm not sure that Don really likes yogurt very much; I think he is just trying to be a good example for Bobby. But then Don eats some of Bobby's pie. Teach doesn't feel like Bobby should be part of the team. Then the thing is that Don sometimes lets his fatherly nature go away and he doesn't protect Bobby when he should.

Teach was my favorite character because he is hilarious but still kind of scary. Sometimes you hated him, but sometimes you felt sorry for him. Like when he has just had a huge tantrum and he keeps trying to make things better between Don and him because he knows he's done something wrong. He is trying to make things better, but he is kind of making everyone else clean up his mess. He even says, "You should clean this place up"! And on his way out he makes a paper hat so he won't get wet. I found that kind of hilarious because a paper hat won't protect you from the rain. That shows you that Teach is not very good at handling situations like this one. I love how he is supposed to be such a tough guy, but then he spends a lot of time complaining about things like the diner cooking the bacon wrong so it is burnt or Don wanting to know his exact plan for going and stealing something.

The coin means different things to all of them. To Don it means revenge. To Bobby it means that Don actually thought something he did was a good thing. It means money to Teach. You have to use your imagination to finish the story and figure out how Bobby got the coin and if it is the same one that someone bought from Don. I like plays that explain things with something happening more than when they just tell you something, and I feel like this show really did that.

Mamet has a very realistic depiction of actual conversation. People don't always say what they mean, which I think is actually how life is. At one point, Teach says to Bob: "You do not have to do anything, Bob. You do not have to do anything we tell you that you have to do." He probably means "You shouldn't interact with us if we don't tell you to interact with us" kind of like, "We don't need your help." But he basically says, "Don't listen to anything we say"! One of my favorite lines was "F-in' Ruthie!" I like how that is your introduction to Teach's character. And how you don't even know what he is saying, but somehow it is just hilarious. It tells you that he is overdramatic and he doesn't care where he is: he is just going to say what he wants to. And there was another line that he said when he was very angry: "The only way to teach these people is to kill them." I found that hilarious because of course you can teach people many other ways than killing them. And of course you couldn't teach them anything if they were dead.

People who would like this show are people who like buffalo coins, burnt bacon, and paper hats. I feel like it is a great and moving story about trying to get something back. They are actually trying to get a lot of things back, not just the coin. They are trying to get their relationships with each other back and trying not to be categorized as losers--so to get their self-respect back. I think that people should definitely, definitely go see this show. It is Mary-Arrchie's last show, so you should all rush to it because it is your last chance to see a Mary-Arrchie show!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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