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Critics' Reviews


Review: In ‘American Buffalo,’ Grift Is the Coin of the Realm

From: The New York Times | By: Jesse Green | Date: 04/14/2022

In the electric revival that opened on Thursday at Circle in the Square, Teach is embodied with coiled and then terrifyingly uncoiled ferocity by Sam Rockwell, making a great occasion of a great role. When he first skitters into the junk shop run by his poker buddy Don - Laurence Fishburne in a beautifully considered performance - he's already seething about a petty insult and stalking the joint like a rat-peacock hybrid. By the time he inserts himself into a heist Don is planning with his dim young gofer and protégé, Bobby, played by the angelic if underpowered Darren Criss, he is so hopped up on delusions of profit that he endangers the operation he means to abet.


‘American Buffalo’ review: Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne battle on Broadway

From: The New York Post | By: Johnny Oleksinski | Date: 04/14/2022

Rockwell and Fishburne nail the buddy-cop dynamic of these prickly parts. Donny is the cool-headed mediator (who also says "f - - k" a lot) and Teach is a furious, distrusting bully whose temper is surely exacerbated by his skintight plaid pants. Fishburne's commanding portrayal reminds me of the best kind of bartender - a sweetheart when he takes your drink order and a hardass when he drags a drunk to the curb by his collar. And although Criss has the least rewarding role of the three, his empty-headed kid is a fun 180 from his diabolical characters in "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" or on Broadway in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Bobby certainly doesn't have Hedwig's wit, and the actor shows just how versatile he is.



From: New York Stage Review | By: David Finkle | Date: 04/14/2022

All the same, if American Buffalo doesn’t pack the wallop it did then (there is at least one actual unpulled punch), the third Broadway revival of the play contains sufficient deliberately grubby thrills to qualify as a must-see.


‘American Buffalo’ Does The Talking For Mamet

From: Deadline | By: Greg Evans | Date: 04/14/2022

Superbly performed by Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell and Darren Criss, with director (and longtime Mamet collaborator) Neil Pepe finding every comic beat and threatening glare, American Buffalo - opening tonight on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre - retains a vitality that eluded some recent equally starry revivals of works by Mamet's bad-boy contemporaries (here's looking at you, True West).


‘American Buffalo’ Review: To Coin an Angry Phrase

From: The Wall Street Journal | By: Charles Isherwood | Date: 04/14/2022

Now might seem an inopportune time to be reviving a play by David Mamet, who could be called America's bard of toxic masculinity, although the term was hardly current-in fact it hadn't entered the popular lexicon, let alone swamped it-when Mr. Mamet was in his prime. But the bruisingly funny revival of Mr. Mamet's 1975 play "American Buffalo" on Broadway proves that such a judgment would be myopic. It's true that the play depicts men-mostly the foul-mouthed Teach, played by Sam Rockwell -displaying volcanic amounts of swaggering machismo, seasoned by a little misogyny and homophobia. And yet Mr. Mamet's characters are themselves the victims of their flaws and throbbing insecurities, so that any toxins they spew poison their own bloodstreams. In his finest plays, including this one and "Glengarry Glen Ross," Mr. Mamet is hardly a cheerleader for testosterone-driven aggression; he is a clear-eyed analyst of its destructive futility.


American Buffalo

From: Time Out New York | By: Adam Feldman | Date: 04/14/2022

Directed by Neil Pepe with the expert eye for appraisal that the characters lack, this production is vastly superior to American Buffalo's last Broadway incarnation, which ran briefly back in 2008. The play itself, which marked Mamet's breakthrough, is as thin as a dime, but it's got great atmospherics. Scott Pask's set and Dede Ayite's costumes plunge us into the shabby world of the action; seated around the thrust stage at Circle in the Square, the audience can almost smell the mix of dirt and desperation. Although not much happens in the play, which is less a thriller than a loiterer, it somehow seems fast-paced, thanks in large part to the three crack performers who bring it to life. They stride the stage with the game confidence of actors who know exactly how to make Mamet's monte look full.



From: New York Stage Review | By: Frank Scheck | Date: 04/14/2022

The current Broadway revival seems designed to showcase Sam Rockwell, who has often played fast-talking, dim-witted and often racist characters in his illustrious career, as exemplified by his Oscar-winning turn in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The role of Teach seems tailor-made for him, much as it did for Al Pacino decades earlier, and, not surprisingly, he kills in the part. But what makes this production so successful - unlike its previous, mediocre Broadway revival in 2008, starring John Leguizamo, Cedric the Entertainer and Haley Joel Osment, which only lasted a week - is that his co-stars are equally up to the challenge.


American Buffalo: Gorgeous Performances, Small Author Issue

From: Vulture | By: Helen Shaw | Date: 04/14/2022

Judged as a showcase, American Buffalo works beautifully. Rockwell has exactly the right tools to crack the Mamet safe. His half-whine, half-growl voice sings in what Todd London evocatively called the writer's "fricative riffs" - unsurprisingly, given how well he's suited to other writers of masculine lyric like Martin McDonagh. Fishburne, judging his rhythms to the nanosecond, grips the play and captains it, and it's lucky that the close quarters of Circle in the Square allow you to see the details of his casual command. Criss, too, does fine work as the play's slow-minded straight man, though he finds fewer details in his character than the other two men.

In particular, director Neil Pepe and his top-shelf cast of three explore how underclass grifters adopt the language of Big Business, how demonstrations of masculinity and bravado can calcify into toxicity and how individuals can be misled by conspiracy theories and lies into shocking acts of violence. (Scott Pask’s set also helps to underscore the message, as we follow the action in the theater’s in-the-round staging through stalactites and stalagmites of junk-shop objects that suggest the detritus of American excess.)


Review: ‘American Buffalo’ proves one man’s trash isn’t always a treasure

From: Broadway News | By: Naveen Kumar | Date: 04/14/2022

It may be that "American Buffalo" belongs in the junk shop where it's set - a token of bicentennial Americana with questionable lasting value. Like the novelty coin at its center, David Mamet's vulgar and compact heist drama no longer carries practical modern-day currency. It has very little, if anything, to say about American dreams and their fallacies that has not been said many times over - and in more broad-minded and sophisticated ways - since the play's 1975 premiere.


Inside the All-Star Revivals of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ and ‘American Buffalo’

From: The Daily Beast | By: Tim Teeman | Date: 04/14/2022

Invective, repetition, manly backchat: the Mamet staples are here, but truly what gives with the damn coins? The actors make as much sense as they can of the foggy mystery and verbal extremity Mamet has written for them around these misplaced little shiny objects, but the playwright's hot air-so visible on Fox News this week-barely seems to merit his characters' heightened tempers, much less our interest. Still, Rockwell rocks it.

Mamet's eagerness to join in a vivified backlash against gay and trans people will likely come as a disappointment to those who see, in works like "American Buffalo," a rich and textured critique of how this country's way of life pits citizen against citizen. And it comes at a less-than-apt moment for this show, which already feels emptied of the vitality that characterizes the best of Mamet. Delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and set in an indeterminate urban landscape of the semi-recent past, this "American Buffalo" lacks the granularity and specificity to say much of anything, let alone make a case for its creator's continued relevance.


American Buffalo Broadway Review

From: New York Theater | By: Jonathan Mandell | Date: 04/14/2022

So, I'll resist analyzing "American Buffalo," avoid trying to figure out whether the original interpretations of it still hold up, given what we now know about Mamet's beliefs. That leaves me with a production that feels like little more than an acting exercise.


AMERICAN BUFFALO Doesn’t Tame its Beast — REVIEW

From: Theatrely | By: Juan A. Ramirez | Date: 04/14/2022

Am I spending too much time on the casting choices? Maybe, but it's not like Pepe's direction commanded my attention anywhere else throughout the hour-forty play. Apparently disinterested in the text, or in showing his directorial hand, he lets the cast wander about Scott Pask's purposely messy set without any ambition, or even pointed aimlessness. He also permits what few moments the script provides for contemporary contemplation - Rockwell's character angrily calling Fishburne's a racial epithet, for example - to go uncommented. This laissez-faire directing doesn't allow the second act's mounting troubles to build or release; a fight breaks out, sort of, it gets resolved, sort of, the play ends.


American Buffalo review – David Mamet returns to Broadway with a thud

From: The Guardian | By: Alexis Soloski | Date: 04/14/2022

American Buffalo feels thin, too. And sour. Like a cup of diner coffee left to cool. It's a showcase for actors. But what really is it showcasing? It's a play about men who feel that life has done them wrong. The way they speak of others - women, queer people, "Mexicans" - suggests that they believe they are owed more, that they are possessors dispossessed, that the American dream is their birthright, even if they never do much to make that dream come through. They fight over scraps - imagined scraps at that - and then they fight one another. Back in the day, there used to be a lot of indignation over Mamet's language and whether it heralded a coarsening of American letters. The language, it turns out, wasn't the coarse part.



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