Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne Photo by Richard Termine
American Buffalo by David Mamet originally opened on Broadway in 1977. The latest revival on Broadway is soundly directed by Neil Pepe and stars the excellent Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell and Darren Criss at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Themes of greed, strained loyalties and the American dream gone astray are timeless, but the play feels dated and slowly peters out.
What you first notice when walking into the theatre is Scott Pask’s set. This intricate, fantastic, magical junk store seems timeless and definitely deserves the Tony nomination for Best Scenic Design of a Play.
The junk shop is owned by Donny (Laurence Fishburne), who has sold an American Buffalo nickel for $90, but he’s been having doubts about its worth. He has tasked Bobby, (Darren Criss), a simple-minded junkie, to keep a watchful eye on the customer, so he can steal it back. Teach (Sam Rockwell), his narcissistic and paranoid poker pal wants in and wants Bobby out. In the end loyalties, friendships and trust are put to the test.
Rockwell commands your attention with each move, he exposes his mindset as he plots his next move. It is Teach’s world we are living in.
Fishburne is elegant, restrained, which makes the final scene combustible. In a way he seems too good to be here, but he is ohhhh so watchable.
Criss, doesn’t seem like a junkie and if it weren’t for knowing the play, I would have never gotten that trait. He seems more nervous and not altogether here. His wide-eyed innocence makes us believe that he knows more than he is letting on, but does he.
In a day and age where everyone is wearing their sensitivity on their sleeves it is hard to believe this show is being revived.
American Buffalo: Circle in the Square, 1633 Broadway, between Broadway and 8th Avenue on 50th Street, until July 11th.