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A nickel for your thoughts
A nickel for your thoughts
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

AMERICAN BUFFALO
BY DAVID MAMET
DIRECTED BY AIMEE BRUNEAU
STARRING JAMES VENTURINI, TRICK DANNEKER AND MARK FULLERTON
THEATER SCHMEATER
THROUGH DECEMBER 1


This is a tight, sharp production for Theater Schmeater. The three actors are all steeped in their roles, creating true-to-life characters that fascinate. Director Aimee Bruneau has pulled together a taut, fast-paced, intense slice of life.

David Mamet's expert ear makes the conversation veer off course, change subjects, jerk to a halt and get back to the matter at hand. Just like most unrehearsed speech. It's about one night in the lives of 'dese Chicago guys who play poker and live day to day just getting by. It's funny and ordinary and angry and a little violent.

Donny (James Venturini) is a junk shop owner who hosts a lot of the group gatherings. He's got the kind of place people drop over to chat in. Not everything is exactly pristine in his shop, including his ethics. He has taken to mentoring Bobby (Trick Danneker) and teaching him how to get along in life. Bobby needs some rescuing, having been through drug use and trying to get back on the straight and narrow. Teach (Mark Fullerton) is the edgy, high-strung con artist kind 'o guy who doesn't trust anyone, even his closest friends. That is if he has any friends.

Their dialogue weaves around the concept of business and friendship. Donny turns out to be planning a little larceny and thinking he'd get Bobby to help him pull it off. Treat finds out about it and convinces Donny that Donny could use people with experience. It's not to say anything about Bobby, but it's Business&.

Prop designer Heather Mayhew has her hands full as she helps create the junk shop and chaotic poker remnants. Her props take a beating during the course of the night in a fight supported by fight choreographer Peter Dylan O'Connor. What a mess they have to clean up each night.

Each of the actors is great in his role and I particularly love the Chicago accents they speak with. James Venturini as Donny reminds me of my uncle in Chicago who moves and sounds very much like Donny. Of course, I'm not suggesting my uncle was a small time crook.

It's a great way to get to know Mamet. The Schmee follows this play with a late night show called "Mamet Schmamet," consisting of four original plays that were submitted when they called for David-Mamet-like scripts. If you can stay up late, you'll get a double dose of what makes Mamet such a unique playwright.

I recommend this production with enthusiasm. It's an adult show with adult humor and a darkly funny journey through an ordinary night.

For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or call (206) 324-5801. Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.
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photos by Joey - SGN photographer

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