Apr 24, 2013


Photos Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse

We all know movies are amazing, but, as PPLA was reminded this week, there is no substitute for the energy of live theater. Director Randall Arney has revived Mamet’s classic American Buffalo at the Geffen Playhouse, and the entire experience was a treat from the get-go. If you haven’t been to the Geffen, you’re missing out on a sweet little oasis right in the middle of Westwood, with a courtyard and not a bad seat in the house.

Buffalo is set in an overstuffed junk shop, and the set, designed by Takeshi Kata, was thoughtful and striking. Although the play originally debuted in 1975, its themes are timeless and seem especially relevant in light of the current economic climate. The basic premise is that Don, the junk shop owner, has sold a coin to a man and now believes it was worth much more than he got for it. So Don, along with his dopey young junkie friend Bob and his smart, embittered poker buddy, Teach, plan a low-grade heist to get the coin back. The three onstage characters are essentially the 99%, searching at any cost for their inlet to the American Dream.

The question of the value of this buffalo nickel is an interesting allegory. How much is anything worth? Well, there are books to help guide you, but ultimately, it’s worth however much you think it’s worth. Then comes the dilemma of friendship versus business. Everyone has his own agenda–getting ahead–and it can be difficult to know who to trust. Actors Bill Smitrovich, Freddy Rodriguez, and Ron Eldard each bring brilliant nuances to their character, and capture the fluctuating enmity between these men with humor and intensity.

As if the play itself isn’t enough of an experience, the Geffen offers special after-theater events on certain days, complete with delicious food, gift bags, wine, and chances to chat with the actors. PPLA was lucky enough to slip into the “Girls Night Out” after-party at Skylight Gardens to play in the photo booth and discuss the play with fellow theatergoers over a buffet and red wine. Cast members Ron Eldard, Freddy Rodriguez, and Bill Smitrovich were in attendance allowing theater-goers to interact with them firsthand about the play. Sponsors included Martian Ranch & Vineyard, Becks Sapphire Beer, Glaceau Smart Water, Pixie Beauty and Los Angeles Magazine. In addition, designer Naomi Hunt from NOMA showcased gorgeous scarves, bags, and jewelry to complete the “Girls Night Out” experience. Check out the photo album here.

If you’re looking for a brain-stimulating all-out sensory experience, American Buffalo is running at the Geffen Playhouse through May 12. Check for the special after-show event schedule.

Up next? Yes, Prime Minister running June 4th to July 14th, learn more here.