THEATER REVIEW: “American Buffalo” @ Dorset Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Roseann Cane
In 1975, 27-year-old up-and-coming Chicago writer David Mamet submitted American Buffalo to Chicago’s Goodman Theater. The play would make its way to Broadway, where it would win the New York Drama Critics Circle award for Best American Play of the 1976-77 season and establish Mamet as a distinctive and important contemporary playwright.
Set in a grubby junk shop, three men – the shop’s owner, Donny Dubrow; Donny’s gofer, Bobby; and Donny’s friend, Walter Cole, known as “Teach” – fervently scheme to steal a buffalo nickel, which they are certain is a rare coin that will make them rich.
At the Dorset Theatre Festival, director John Gould Rubin has assembled a stellar trio of actors for this production. As Donny, Stephen Adly Guirgis (himself a prolific playwright and a Pulitzer prize winner) manages to make Donny’s strong ambivalence – genuine concern for his troubled gofer’s well being and his eagerness to make a windfall – palpable. As Bobby, Oliver Palmer creates an agitated, needy, young junkie with a heartbreaking desire to please his mentor. Treat Williams, as Teach, is sensational as the volatile, manipulative conniver.