By David Mamet
Directed by Pam Harbaugh
Theater On The Edge
I’m not sure where these guys have been hiding, but this little theater popped a bases loaded homer with David Mamet’s pause-filled classic America Buffalo. It’s a true guy story set in a seedy junk shop in an even seedier part of Chicago. Donny Dubrow (Allan Whitehead) sold a rare coin by accident. He seems uninformed for a junk dealer but there you have it: a well-dressed guy rolls in, negotiates a price of $90, and now Donny wants that coin back. He’d settle for any other trinkets the rich dude may have lying about. Donny has help, but it’s not too useful. There’s Bobby (Zack Roundy) a skin popper who can’t seem to get anything right. His other assistant is the speedy and jittery Teach (Marco DiGeorge); they hang out and figure a plan to do the “shot” and aim to cut Bobby out. But in the end Donny’s criminal skills rank right along with his numismatic skills.
The set is cluttered and authentic, all it’s missing is the now forbidden stench of old cigarettes. The cast is on edge all evening. DiGeorge fingers never stop moving; he’s the perfect example of a speed freak who’s been running too long without any sleep. Mr. Roundy captures the crooked innocence of a slow witted and not very likeable junkie. He still shows us a soft baby face, but there’s not much in his eyes or his future. Mr. Whitehead plays the mother hen in this roost of loser demons; he might be the only adult on stage but his temper is short and planning not very long range. He’s an opportunist yet lacks the ability to create usable opportunities. This keeps him in a spot he’ll never break free from, but then he wouldn’t know what to do if he did get a break.
While smoke is lacking there’s plenty of testosterone here, and director Harbaugh channels it with the skill of someone who’s known men like this a little too long and a little too often. We are not here to learn a lesson or improve our ways, but we do pick up some tricks on cheating at cards and knowing what our stock for sale is really worth. It’s an impressive outing for this small, difficult to locate theater; plan to arrive early as they have yet to pop for a searchlight or a blinking marquee. But do go if you can; it’s a superb effort by a troupe I hope to see again soon.