Lottie Ward’s characteristically fearless and assured Studio Group production of David Mamet’s American Buffalo did full justice to this excoriating expose of the sordid underbelly of the shiny American Dream.
Written in 1975, its theme is timeless and if anything the current recession in which the whole of Western capitalism festers gives it extra relevance.
A threatening US Army poster dominates Donny Dubrow’s junkshop stuffed with the discarded trash on which his livelihood depends. And in a way Donny together with his “partners” Teach and young Bobby are themselves waste products of the American belief in Big Business as the be-all and end-all of life.
The plot revolves round the acquisition of a rare American Buffalo coin, a nickel which in their eyes represents gold. Exploiting this find becomes their obsession. Contaminated by greed, distrustful of friendship, unscrupulous to a degree, their embryonic decency and humanity struggle to find expression via their restless body language and the fractured, unfinished utterances, littered with the obscenities of frustration, that define their dialogues.
Of these three sad losers Donny (impressive Kevin Shepherd, a last minute substitute though you would never know it) emerged as the most sympathetic. Bobby (Jake Broadhurst in a sensitively nuanced performance) was the most innocent and vulnerable.
Teach (Paul Varnham), displaying a volatile mix of menace and black comedy, was the most ruthless. Their rounded, totally convincing characterisations and flawless timing had the audience mesmerised.
Not to be missed - at the Actors’ Workshop, St James Street, Halifax, until Saturday, November 3 (7.30pm).
By Julia Anderson