Theater opens season with ‘American Buffalo’

Chosen as the best American play by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle in 1977, David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” has continued to draw critical acclaim throughout the decades. Dustin Hoffman was the cutting-edge lead in the 1996 film version of the play. A 1983 Broadway revival starring Al Pacino was nominated for a Tony. Proving the play still has legs, another Broadway revival opened last fall starring John Leguizamo.

San Diego audiences can now revisit this intense work as Compass Theatre opens its 2009 season with “American Buffalo.” The show runs through Feb. 15 and is directed by Ruff Yeager.

The story takes place in a Chicago thrift shop run by Don (Walter Murray). He’s a come-what-may survivor who can’t resist a get-rich-quick scheme even when it’s risky. Removing himself from the risk factor, he reveals his plan to steal a man’s coin collection to Teach (Matt Scott) and wants him to handle the job.

Teach is a misanthropic shop hangout who can explode with anger one minute and pretend to be a mentor the next — like he does with Bob (Nathan Dean Synder), a nervous neighborhood druggie who often turns to Don for advice and a handout. Mamet’s plays require much of its actors, to take themselves to a level of denial while seeming normal. Each of the actors in this production is expressively courageous in their portrayals.

The derisive play is a shortened form of the original but still maintains a street-smart edge. The Compass Theatre actors incorporate Mamet’s incomplete sentence structure well to flesh out their characters’ gritty angst. With his boyish, pleading look, Synder elicits much empathy for his character Bob, especially when he’s hit over the head by Teach in a jealous rage. Scott’s Wiley Coyote portrayal of a man only looking out for himself sets the tone for this cynical tale about three con men.

Compass founder and executive director Dale Morris worked for three years to get the rights to produce the play. Keen direction by Yeager is evident in how the trio reacts to each other. The theater’s physical stage area and seating space is small. That doesn’t matter, however, as the actors’ talents are large. Compass’ “American Buffalo” is solid entertainment for adults only.

‘American Buffalo’
- Through Feb. 15
- Compass Theatre
- 3704 Sixth Ave.
- (619) 688-9210

Related posts:

  1. Theater Listings
  2. Theater Listing
  3. Award-winning play ‘The Dresser’ opens this weekend
  4. Cygnet celebrates theater renovation, grand opening
  5. UCSD honors theater department founder

Short URL:

Posted by geseanari on Feb 5, 2009. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6





  • Rancho Santa Fe resident among seven new trustees joining UC San Diego Foundation Board
    Proactive stewards, higher education advocates and expert financial strategists, UC San Diego Foundation trustees play an important role in cultivating community partnerships and garnering resources to support UC San Diego research, teaching and public service initiatives. Trustees govern the Foundation, including managing net assets totaling $717 million, i […]
  • Rancho Fire District to recognize Fire Prevention Week with two events
    National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 5-11, and the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District (RSFFPD) will host two community events to recognize the annual awareness campaign. The first will be an Open House from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 4 at RSF Fire Station 2, 16930 Four Gee Road in 4S Ranch. Guests will be able to tour the fire station and traini […]
  • New Rancho Santa Fe Library Branch Manager welcomes community input
    Rancho Santa Fe Library’s new Branch Manager Haley Kwon has been charmed by the village’s “sweet, down-home” character, the simple pleasure of visiting the local library and people’s enjoyment of a slower speed of time. “It’s a small town and the library is a place for people to connect,” Kwon said. “People have a different sense of time here, they come in t […]