Bournemouth Little Theatre’s production of American Buffalo captures all of the intensity and emotion of the dialogue of David Mamet’s script. With a cast of three who spend the whole of both of the play’s 40 minute halves within the confines of only one room, a rather grotty looking junk shop, the play sets its actor quite a challenge which Barry Gunner, Gavin Rand and Bob Ichev all do a wonderful job in meeting.
Although symbolically the play is meant to be yet another pop at the American dream, as if this wasn’t a subject matter that hadn’t already been thoroughly flogged to death on the stage, the brilliance of this particular production is that the quality of the acting manages to centre the dramatic focus of the play onto the relative frailty of the three characters in question as they try to plan a robbery. The quick talking yet hot headed Teach who can’t control his emotions. XXX a sleazy older individual who is remarkably Fagin like in his demeanour. As well as the much younger, lackadaisical Bobby who seems to be well meaning yet incapable of nearly any task that he might be set. All three are completely pathetic yet relatable and charming in their own particular manner.
It should be said that the play does include a fair amount of swearing. However this doesn’t taint the play in the way which the needless inclusion of expletives for either shock value or out of a lack of comic imagination does so many other modern productions. Instead it very much comes across as simply being authentically part of the everyday vernacular of these working class characters who find it difficult to express themselves in any other manner. Remarkably it becomes an asset to the play rather than a hindrance.
Therefore this play comes highly recommended for anyone looking for a serious watch rather than a feel good production, although there is a comic level to the play and some rather amusing utilisation of stage scenery.