David Mamet’s American Buffalo

Smack dab in the middle of the ‘Loin is the Geary Theater. This gem is an old triple decker theater built in 1910 that seats 250-ish people. Tuesday, after a somewhat disappointing dinner at The Slanted Door, we drew ourselves up into our most cultured posture and headed for the Theatre.
With our $10 2nd balcony tickets in hand, we arrived early and toured the lower level. We walked up to the stage and wondered at the abundance of “atmosphere.” American Buffalo is set in a Chicago junk shop, and this stage was crammed with every imaginable item, from bicycle tires to racks of retro-clothing, from banjoes and drum sets to silver do-dads. The furnishings included a well-worn couch, a card table, and a office desk with swivel chair. The most impressive part was the lighting effect- the windows and door allowed in this “natural” sunlight that had me fooled at 8pm at night.
We climbed up to the 2nd balcony and settled in. The lights dimmed, and the magic of acting overtook us. I haven’t been to many plays with professional actors, but every time I’m amazed by the performance. Ok I admit it, I’ve only seen this play and Art, which are incredible plays in and of themselves. But the acting was impassioned, the set design phenomenal, and the audience appreciative. Every detail was worked out with precision. Whenever the door would open, you could hear snippets of Latino ghetto-blasted music. Every so often the place would shake with the passing of the El. When Don was on the phone, you could hear someone on the other line, or the busy signal, or when the phone was knocked off the hook, the incessant beeping. [Speaking of beeping, a much needed reminder to turn off cell phones and pagers boomed out before the show began.]
Matt swore that Teach sounded just like Joe Mantegna, but I didn’t really see it. Teach’s voice boomed, Bobby squealed, and Don sighed. Perhaps this trio will lift me out of my non-theater life by virtue of their virtuosoness. Ah, shut it.


auth=Mamet, David
pub=1975