‘American Buffalo’ brings classic Mamet to PCA's Stage Too
Where: PCA’s Stage Too (behind the main theater), 208 N. Marina St.
When: May 11-13, 18-20, 25-27, at 7:30 p.m. or May 14, 21, 28, at 2:30 p.m.
"American Buffalo” is one of the only, if not the only, plays written by a major name (David Mamet) to center on a coin, and it’s being performed this month at Prescott Center for the Arts’ “Stage Too” venue.
The coin in question is a buffalo nickel, and the owner of a junk shop is having second thoughts about having sold it to a customer.
He’s thinking it was worth more, and the entire play is set in that shop, where the owner hatches a plan to steal it back, and then decides to take the buyer’s whole coin collection.
The 1975 script is classic Mamet, meaning (a) it’s set in Chicago, and (b) it’s full of profanity. This is definitely not a show for children, or sensitive adults.
Directing the show is PCA veteran Paul Epoch, who said the language is an integral part of the show.
The language “is (the characters’) vernacular, and it becomes their poetry, there’s almost a mellifluousness to it,” he said.
The show itself has a larger subtext than just a plot about small-time thugs, Epoch added.
“(Mamet) put the buffalo in there for a reason,” he said. “The plight of the American buffalo, or bison, driven to near extinction … kind of reflects where these guys are,” also finding themselves nearly out of time.
There are just three characters and one set — the junk shop — but Epoch said the junk shop takes on a life of its own.
“You see how the landscape is around them, and that junk shop reflects what that is.
He gives a lot of credit to his cast, Jonathan Purpich, Jim Pyduck, and Ryan Musselman, for their dedication and hard work.
Ultimately, he said, the play is about real life as seen through the lens and dialogue of the denizens of the junk shop.
“It’s a fascinating play,” Epoch said. “You really get the feeling that this is how they talk — it’s very real.”