Theater News Online
free issue
London Theatre Reviews
NY Theater Reviews
LTN Recommendations
NYTN Recommendations
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
London Theatre Archives
NY Theater Archives
Latest New York News
Latest London News
NY News Archives
London News Archives
Peter Filichia's Monday Quiz
Dining and Travel
London Theatre Listings
NY Broadway Listings
Off-Broadway Listings
London Tickets
Advertise with us

Subscribe
Renew
Give a Gift


Logo

Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
AMERICAN BUFFALO
at the Belasco

ROAMING FOR NAUGHT
By BILL STEVENSON

  Cedric the Entertainer, John Leguizamo and Haley Joel Osment/ PH: Justin Borucki

By the end of David Mamet's American Buffalo, the cluttered junkshop set is a mess. This revival-directed by Robert Falls and starring John Leguizamo, Cedric the Entertainer , and Haley Joel Osment-isn't a mess exactly. The actors do a decent job with Mamet's pungent, profanity-filled dialogue, and the production is seldom boring. But there are hardly any dramatic fireworks, making this a rather flat staging that never catches fire.

Donny Dubrow ( Cedric the Entertainer) owns the junkshop and its wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling shelves of stuff. The simple plot involves his plan to rob a coin collector who recently bought a Buffalo head nickel in the store. Bobby ( Osment), a young friend who does some work for Donny wants to take part in the robbery. The arrival of Walter Cole a.k.a. Teach ( Leguizamo) complicates things. He worms his way into the scheme, elbowing out Bobby and putting himself in charge of the heist.

Leguizamo, who wrote and starred in the Broadway shows Freak and Sexaholix-a Love Story, brings out the humor in Teach's braggadocio. Jabbering a mile a minute, he rehashes the previous night's poker game in which he lost to a "dyke" named Ruthie. ( Teach calls her plenty of other things, most of which aren't polite to say outside of locker rooms and Mamet plays.) Leguizamo doesn't make Teach seem dangerous, however, which means he's less frightening to Bobby, Denny, and the audience. Without an element of danger, Teach is just a mildly amusing big talker who doesn't generate much excitement or dramatic tension. I didn't see the original Broadway production in 1977 that starred Robert Duvall or the 1983 revival with Al Pacino, but I imagine both actors generated the kind of electricity that is sorely lacking here.

Cedric the Entertainer, a stand-up comedian who has acted in movies like Barbershop, is a Broadway newcomer yet seems right at home in Santo Loquasto's nicely jam-packed junkshop. His relaxed presence contrasts sharply with Leguizamo's hyper take on Teach. Osment ( The Sixth Sense) hasn't done much theater, let alone Broadway. There isn't much depth to his performance, but he makes the eager-to-please, rather dim Bobby sympathetic.

Falls, who directed the outstanding Broadway revivals of Death of a Salesman and Long Day's Journey into Night, doesn't work similar magic this time. Along with Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo is considered Mamet's best play. Falls' production isn't terrible, but it's still disappointing.

 

 


SUBSCRIBE TO New York Theater News
SUBSCRIBE TO London Theater News

SCHEDULE UPDATES -
Yes, Prime Minister contracts its run, while A Chorus Line expands its own.
POWERHOUSE OF THEATRE - After 11 years as the Almeida Theatre's artistic director, Michael Attenborough is stepping down to focus on directing. 

SONGS FROM THE HEART - Once the Tony-Award winning musical is set to hit London in January.


Wine, Fruit, and Gourmet Gift Baskets.
Privacy Notice   |   Front Page
Copyright © TheaterNewsOnline.com. All Rights Reserved.