Previewed 16 April 2015, Opened 27 April 2015, Closed 27 June 2015 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
A major revival of David Mamet's play American Buffalo in London starring Damien Lewis and John Goodman and directed by Daniel Evans.
As three small-time crooks, Donny Dubrow, Walter 'Teach' Cole and Bobby plan one big-time heist, a tragedy of errors spins this razor-sharp and darkly funny play into a blistering account of divided loyalties, insatiable greed… and a coveted Buffalo nickel as David Mamet examines the fickle nature of honour among thieves.
The cast features Damian Lewis as 'Walter 'Teach' Cole', John Goodman as 'Don Dubrow' and Tom Sturridge as 'Bobby'. Casting subject to change without notice. This production is directed by Daniel Evans with designs by Paul Wills and lighting by Mark Henderson. Please note that this play contains strong language and is therefore only recommended for audiences aged 12 and above. Owing to the nature of the production, latecomers will not be admitted until after the interval.
When this production opened in April 2015, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard wrote that "this starry revival boasts three fine performances and moments of abrasive comedy, even if it takes a while to come to the boil... the high level of technical accomplishment isn’t enough to set the pulse racing. But after the interval the emotional tension increases." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph noted how "lots of the right things are in place, effort has been expended. Yet it hasn't yet translated into something that sets pulses racing... it looks like a Mamet, sounds like a Mamet but a strain of British restraint and rather unmacho gentleness creeps in." Paul Taylor in the Independent commented that "here, for once, the commercial pulling-power of actors with cinema and television clout combines with a genuine depth of theatrical expertise... While the cast has a sure command of the rhythms of expletive-laden Mamet-speak with its staccato repetitions and half-thoughts, the pace of Daniel Evan's production is too measured." Dominic Maxwell in the Times thought that "in this surprisingly sluggish revival," Damien Lewis and Tom Sturridge "give virtuosic but fussy performances. Meanwhile, the American John Goodman makes the junk-shop owner, Don, a human being... Goodman never looks as if he acting and he's the one who injects the heat into this disappointingly lukewarm evening." Michael Billington in the Guardian described how "Daniel Evans' production is meticulous in its psychological and physical detail. John Goodman is quite brilliant as Don... but the great virtue of this production is that it is more than a showpiece for stars and highlights David Mamet’s ability to write a far-reaching fable about the jungle of American capitalism." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times held that all three actors "deliver beautifully detailed, astutely observed performances in a staging full of nuanced psychological insights" though "it's John Goodman, as Don, the shop owner, who gives the outstanding performance of the evening: quiet, sad, unshowy, his very bulk seeming to sit on him like the decades of disappointment." John Nathan in the London Metro said that this was "the West End's starriest production of the year," explaining that "Daniel Evans' production boasts three fine but contrasting performances." Neil Norman in the Daily Express highlighted that "there is a distinct lack of energy in the first half as if director Daniel Evans had mistaken David Mamet's profane, speedball dialogue for Harold Pinter's menacing non sequiturs. Both are masters of (un)natural dialogue but Mamet requires a locomotive delivery it does not get here until late in the game. Great to see three superb actors trading off each other and its last moments are very moving but someone somewhere needs to put their foot on the gas."
"Damien Lewis is magnificent as Teach, a deceptively soft-spoken man with a dangerously short fuse, who responds to bad service in a diner by declaring: 'The only way to teach these people is to kill them.' With thick sideburns and a horseshoe moustache, he struts about the stage like a welterweight waiting for a fight he knows he cannot win. His companions in crime are Don, a junk shop owner, played with formidable authority by John Goodman in his West End debut, and Bob, a street punk, played by a shaven-headed, wraith-like Tom Sturridge with a deeply disturbing mixture of mental and physical fragility... Lewis and his cohorts make the play more touchingly funny and less violent than on its two previous London outings... this makes Teach's climactic cry that 'We all live like cavemen' less compelling, but the play itself more enjoyable." The Sunday Express
"This is a shaggy-dog story that snaps, bites, gets pretty brutal and finally draws blood before it lies down quietly and with an unexpected tenderness... Much of the humour in Daniel Evans’s compelling revival comes from the fractured, stuttered inarticulateness, the filthy tirades, the non-sequiturs, the ironic — and moronic — malapropisms. The characters seldom say what they mean, because they can’t, but this trio of outstandingly detailed, eloquent performances makes what they mean bruisingly clear. John Goodman brings weight in every sense but also an impressive lightness of touch to his portrait of Don, reflecting every slow response. Damien Lewis is barely recognisable as the ferrety, fidgety Teach, a man whose distrust of everyone else's intentions merely serves to underline his own base instincts. Tom Sturridge is simultaneously vulnerable and venal. None of them is who he seems." The Mail on Sunday
"American Buffalo still stands as a masterpiece of sustained dialogue. The tension here is: can the performance and direction keep up with it? The answer is, not quite. John Goodman, the shopkeeper who cares for Bobby the junkie, perfectly offers up the dilemma of wishing to be a decent friend and mentor along with the mistrustful anger of having been ripped off by life. Tom Sturridge makes a splendid counterpoint performance as a pale, fading and hapless drug addict, who fails in everything with a pitiful and touching keenness. Teach, Damien Lewis's crook, is the bravado role, and Lewis attacks it with gusto... But he slips unwittingly into Al Pacino imitations that are disconcerting, particularly as Pacino famously played this part. And as so often with Mamet, the direction is unsure how much to play for laughs. Much of it is very funny and lots more of it could be, if the director, Daniel Evans, decided to take it there. But here the laughs appear to take the cast by surprise. They are not yet sure whether they are amusing or malevolent." The Sunday Times
Damian Lewis is best known for playing the role of 'Sergeant Nicholas Brody' in the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning television drama Homeland and for the HBO TV series Band of Brothers. His London theatre credits include Molière's comedy The Misanthrope with Keira Knightley, Tara Fitzgerald and Dominic Rowan (Harold Pinter Theatre 2009) and Henrik Ibsen's Pillars of the Community with Lesley Manville and Una Stubbs (National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre 2006). John Goodman’s recent stage credits include the role of 'Pozzo' opposite Nathan Lane as 'Estragon', Bill Irwin as 'Vladimir' and John Glover as 'Lucky' in Anthony Page's revival of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot at Broadway's Studio 54 Theatre in 2009. He is probably best known for his Golden Globe winning role as 'Dan Conner' in the television series Rosanne and his numerous film appearances, including a number for the Coen Brothers. Tom Sturridge was recently nominated for a Tony Award for 'Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play' for his role of 'Phillip' opposite Alec Baldwin as 'Harold' and Ben Foster as 'Treat' in Daniel Sullivan's revival of Lyle Kessler's play Orphans (Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre 2013). Daniel Evans is currently the Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres. As a director his West End theatre credits include Simon Beaufoy's The Full Monty (Noel Coward Theatre 2014). His London acting credits include Sam Buntrock's multi-award winning revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George. David Mamet's plays seen most recently in London's West End include Speed-the-Plow starring Lindsay Lohan (Playhouse Theatre 2014), Glengarry Glen Ross (Apollo Theatre 2007), A Life in The Theatre (Apollo Theatre 2005) and Oleanna (Garrick Theatre 2004).
American Buffalo in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 16 April 2015, opened on 27 April 2015 and closed on 27 June 2015.