Review: Exploring the Parallels of AMERICAN BUFFALO at Theater on the Edge

By: Nov. 21, 2016
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Capitalism is encapsulated in Theater on the Edge's portrayal of AMERICAN BUFFALO. Written by David Mamet, AMERICAN BUFFALO sits among the best modern American plays. While the play is a microscopic look into the lives of three men just trying to make a buck, it draws parallels to the underlying greed of corporate America. Theater on the Edge gives a raw, raucous, and honest production that would make Mamet proud.

It all boils down to a nickel. At Don's junk shop in 1970's Chicago, a customer buys the a buffalo nickel for $90. Believing that he's been hoodwinked, Don and his buddy Bobby plot to steal back the nickel. Then there's Teach, another one of Don's frenetic friends who manages to insert himself into the heist. In true Mamet style, AMERICAN BUFFALO draws the parallel between corporate greed and criminality in a surreal fashion. As Donny describes it, in the end business is just "people taking care of themselves."

Performed well, the all male-cast plays into the idea of the stereotypical man: boorish, aggressive, acting without thinking, etc. Allan Whitehead as Donny elicits a range of emotions from the audience from sympathy to anger; from disbelief to frustration. He's just an average guy trying to make a living just like Bernie Madoff or any other businessman. The character of Donny means well, but with a serious chip on his shoulder, he just can't get ahead. As the story pivots around Donny and his idea to take back what is his, we examine how he interacts with his friends.

When talking to Bobby, Donny is kind and patient. He is the opposite of how a criminal would behave. Donny has genuine feelings for Bobby's well-being. Zack Roundry as Bobby is an interesting character. I could not tell if Bobby has a mental disorder, was a drug addict, or was just so disengaged about life that he was only left to one of two syllable answers throughout the show. It was hard to believe that this character just existed in the world. It is difficult to watch in the sense that while he speaks so little the character is still endearing. At some points, I questioned if the delivery was too slow or was it purposefully done for the Mamet effect. The playwright uses terse beats of dialogue then calls for pauses in dialogue to give the audience a moment to ponder the situation.

Being the American playwright that he is, Mamet is a deliberate writer. He uses profanity in a way that is natural for the situation. Delivery is important for a show like AMERICAN BUFFALO. If there is a lack of conviction, then the show will fall flat. Luckily, the show's secret weapon was completely committed throughout the performance. Marco DiGeorge as Donny's other friend Teach, is the charismatic, rough, and somewhat sensible guy that the show needs. DiGeorge has a crazy amount of energy that builds throughout the show. He moves throughout the stage like a hummingbird adding layers of urgency to a situation that essentially boils down to a nickel.

The set works well with the cozy space. There are things to look at everywhere. It definitely gave the feeling of a dirty junk shop where you may find something of value, but you have to dig first. I also appreciated the subtle sound effects to give the full city vibe.

The theater is casual with just 31 seats and proving that you do not need fancy lighting and effects. Theater on the Edge makes a fine addition to the Orlando theater scene. While the run of AMERICAN BUFFALO ended, I look forward to see what comes next out of Theater on the Edge. AMERICAN BUFFALO ran November 3rd to November 20th. For more information about Theater on the Edge visit

Photo Credit: Monica Mulder


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