Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

American Buffalo

Jack Frank Sigman, Daniel Lugo, and Nick Velkov
For the current Alliance Theatre Lab season, the company's directors have chosen the shows that inspired them as theater artists. Director Adalberto J. Acevedo begins the season with David Mamet's American Buffalo. One of David Mamet's earlier pieces, American Buffalo originally opened in 1975. It includes Mamet's signature use of strong male characters, and deals with the decline of societal morality. Mamet finds humor, insight and brutality in his use of language to achieve his objectives. Because his naturalistic style focuses on the wordplay of street jargon, his scripts are often peppered generously with expletives. Mamet's work has been compared to that of Samuel Beckett, and has earned him both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

American Buffalo is the story of three men in a small Chicago resale shop and their plot to steal a coin collection, which includes a buffalo head nickel purchased from the shop owner, Don. Don is assisted by the well-meaning but nearly delinquent young Bobbie, to whom he is a father figure. Added to the mix is their hot-headed and volatile friend, Teach. But, to quote one of Mamet's characters, "There is business and there is friendship," and the three men soon find their partnership in crime tearing at the fabric of whatever friendship exists among them.

This production of American Buffalo is staged at the Main Street Playhouse, an appropriately intimate 90-seat house. The set works well, and the music chosen clearly sets up the play's time and locale.

Nick Velkov as Teach has the edge to his character that drives this show home. He grasps Mamet's language and intent and makes it his own, each emotional peak and valley seemingly traveled for the first time. Jack Frank Sigman as Don portrays the calmer voice of reason while still being inscrutable. Daniel Lugo as Bobbie does a good job of walking the fine line Mamet has written for the character. We are never sure to what degree Bobbie is a mixture of troubled and learning disabled.

The show moves fairly quickly due to good pacing and direction. The only concern was an errant table flying off the stage and landing inches from an audience member, as well as a lamp crashing off the stage in what would appear to be either over zealous acting or an under-rehearsed fight scene. Hopefully, this was a one time opening night glitch in an otherwise solid performance.

American Buffalo runs through October 2, 2005 at the Main Street Playhouse. The theater is located at 6766 Main Street in Miami Lakes, FL. For tickets to this show, or information on The Alliance Theatre Lab and their season, call 305/450-3242.

Don: Jack Frank Sigman
Bobbie: Daniel Lugo
Teach: Nick Velkov

Director: Adalberto J. Acevedo
Set Design: Rachel Finley
Sound Design: Natan Samuels
Lighting Design: Daniel Lugo
Stage Manager: Kevin Johnson

Photo: George Schiavone

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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