Love a Good Play: American Buffalo

Wyndham Theatre, May 16 2015

David Mamet could write a novel on a speck of dust, I swear. The drama he can extract from a small, seemingly insignificant occurance is astonishing.

This time it’s a junk shop, run by a loser (Goodman) who happens to have a rare coin with the head of an American Buffalo on it… A random stranger spys the coin and buys it, sparking the interest and jealous mind of the loser. He plans to get the coin back with the help of a junkie kid (Sturridge) he has a soft spot for. Trouble is he tells this to a “friend” of his, the hustler (Lewis) who decides to make this into a ‘big plan’, cut out the junkie and involve another hustling friend.

It’s not an easy play and the last time I saw a Mamet play it was the God-awful production of Speed the Plow with La Lohan. However this is supremely acted.

The revelation of the evening is Tom Sturridge. Last time I saw him he was a dashing scoundrel in Far from the Madding Crowd. Here he is superb as the junkie half-wit. The physicality of his performance really quite astonishing.

Lewis is very good as the on-the-edge hustler — he plays it as a hustling Christopher Walken (perfect observation @bridgetbythebridge). His incredible sideburns deserve a credit all of their own. Goodman grounds the piece as the seemingly normal guy (who’s greed to get back the coin he honestly sold, sparks off the whole reason for the play).

This is a play for serious play lovers. Holidaying west-enders need not apply…

4/5 Sturridge’s night…

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