Offstage and sometimes on, David Mamet may be infuriating and exasperating, as anyone who has witnessed his recent can attest, and then there's something like possibly his greatest work, all due apologies to Glengarry Glen Ross with a cast so in sync with Mamet's "profane poetry" that for a couple hours it's not impossible to put aside whatever Mamet is currently advocating on Fox News.
A vitality that avoided some recent equally starry performances of Mamet's bad-boy contemporaries (here's looking at you, ) was discovered atop a, and, with director (and long-time Mamet collaborator) Neil Pepe finding every comic beat and dangerous glare. American Buffalo opening tonight on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre has been preserved.
Despite Mamet's rapid-fire cadences and casually strewn vulgarities, American Buffalo was immediately known for the latter. Despite the stuttering and overlapping rhythms, this style was co-opted and spread many times ago by just about every post-Sopranos crime show on premium cable, however they do a great job, at least when done with the panache on display.
The vulgarities remain, since the F-bombs do not shock, and the misogynist and homophobic epithets do, perhaps more than ever. When Rockwell's ill-tempered Teach refers to an (offstage) lesbian couple in degrading terms, the words sting regardless of the fact that Teach is speaking the lingua franca of his shoddy milieu (and certainly regardless of his oft-stated and seemingly sincere admiration for the
The scene is a Chicago junk shop, beautifully designed by Scott Pask, who transforms Circle in the Square's famous thrust stage into an overstuffed graveyard of life's throwaways, owned and operated by Donny (Fishburne), an aging tough guy who has previously been revealed in the running crouch he assumes whenever the lights of a cop car flash outside his store windows.
Donny, a stern and no-excuses kind of guy, is embracing Bobby (Criss), a young, recovering junkie who helps out around the house doing odd tasks such as picking up coffee or setting a house for something more nuanced. Donny, assuming himself that the customer got the better end of the transaction, has determined to raid the guy's house to retrieve the item.
Teach is your entrance. Rockwell is sinking into the shop in despair over some peculiar slight he's convinced himself that gay women might (or may not) have directed toward him. Long before Tarantino was obsessing over Royales with Cheese, Mamet had Teach stewing over a toast that one of his friends wished him.
Teach quickly latches on to Donny's old pal's crimes, and he wants Bobby out, implying that the kid is too happy for a job. But Donny accepts, but only if they can invite another friend the never-seen Fletch to come along.
The second act begins later that night, when Donny and Teach are waiting at Fletch to demonstrate. Instead, Bobby sells a Buffalo coin and tells Donny himself that Fletch has done some backstabbing by carrying off the burglary on their own.
The famously explosive final scene, which involves debts being divided and accusations being made, highlights the tension that stutters beneath all low-rent capitalism, all capitalism, the pre-Trump Mamet may have suggested, and no one is spared. In the punishing, dog-eat-dog world of American Buffalo, there are no winners, just the less-bloodied.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC
Think you've had enough lately? Think again. Jamie Lloyd's Olivier Award-winning production of the Edmond Rostand classic, which features James McAvoy in one of this theater season's most dazzling performances, is opening tonight at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and it's a delight.
With writer Martin Crimp "freely" adapting the Edmond Rostand classic like Lin-Manuel Miranda's free adaptation of Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton this modern-dress Cyrano does not so much strip away Rostand's sweet neo-romanticism as scuff it up with black leather, slam poetry, and vocal beat-box rhythms.
If the plot is accurate, it involves imagination: The handsome McAvoy, who looks buffer and sexier than ever in a tight black t-shirt and skinny jeans, is within minutes believing that he is indeed the physically ill-equipped poet-warrior who requires a glued-on proboscis to pull off.
Cyrano is no longer an alternately joyous and heartbreaking celebration of language, unlike McAvoy's vast and well-known ensemble. From era-defying comic asides, every line of dialogue, expertly delivered, not only McAvoy but a large and flawless ensemble, is either a delight, an arrow, or both. I can't stop seeing, I can't stop hearing, I want you to," says Cyrano, who said of the film, "I am able
Lloyd excels in matching textual poetry with spare, elegant visuals on a white-box stage, sumptuously lit, and actors often face the audience while delivering the most heartfelt sentiments. At one point, a secondary character begins to paint seemingly random marks on a red wall, unnoticed by the other performers. Cyrano, Roxane (Evelyn Miller) and Christian (Eben Figueiredo) are both skeptical of the idea. The message: "I