American Buffalo: Theatre Review

American Buffalo performed at Wyndham's Theatre Damian Lewis as Walter, John Goodman as Don, Tom Sturridge as Bob ©Alastair Muir 22.04.15

American Buffalo performed at Wyndham’s Theatre
Damian Lewis as Walter, John Goodman as Don, Tom Sturridge as Bob
©Alastair Muir 22.04.15

My tickets were booked for this as soon as Damian Lewis signed on as the star and I could not believe my luck when John Goodman and Tom Sturridge were announced as his co-stars. That’s what I call an A-list line-up! And while they were amazing, the play itself was not great.

American Buffalo was written in 1975 by David Mamet. It is essentially about three guys – junk shop owner Don (Goodman), his ‘business’ associate Teach (Lewis) and Don’s ex-junkie friend Bobby (Sturridge) – who plot a robbery for a collection of rare coins. But that’s the problem in itself – all they do is talk about it. This is so dialogue heavy and you’re continually wondering if they are ever going to get to the point. And by the end you realise there actually isn’t much point to the play itself because not much happens – they just talk about something happening.

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So American Buffalo certainly wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. The second half was certainly more entertaining and exciting but I felt deflated at the very end. I had a ‘oh, that’s it?’ feeling and I wasn’t sure if I got it. The play wasn’t that long but it felt like I went on for ages because there was so much dialogue about stuff that didn’t matter. I really struggled to concentrate, especially with their thick American accents.

So yes, I didn’t love the play. I’ve seen another one of Mamet’s plays, Speed-the-Plow, and that was the same in that there was a ton of dialogue but it all seemed pointless as nothing really happened. But I enjoyed the performances a lot. Lewis had a brilliant stage presence – very commanding, cocky, sweary with fantastic 1970s suit and mutton chops. Goodman was solid although his character probably wasn’t as unique as the other two and Sturridge surprised me the most. He had shaved off his usually long hair and had slurred speech and a former junkie look. They were all brilliant, I just wish I liked the play more.

Only John Goodman came out at the stage door to sign (in his tracksuit bottoms) – check out my pics!

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Based on the Saturday 9th May evening performance at Wyndham’s Theatre in London.

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