… Creative Transformation …

Van Gogh, in his painting The Night Cafe turns a down and outers’ bar into a church, recreating its denizens in the process.  In David Mamet’s American Buffalo, we come to see a low-life junk shop as a home and its loser occupants gain a big win — a family.

This play is in many ways the opposite of A Man for All Seasons, recently reviewed here on Let’s Talk Off Broadway.  Instead of men in high positions loftily debating issues of Universal Importance, it’s about three at the bottom of the ladder planning a heist with profanity peppered language.  These men have vast failings but genuine feelings they don’t themselves know until the hot circumstances and cause and effect of the failed heist bring them deeper understanding.

Teach, played brilliantly by John Leguizamo, is violent, bitter and clutchy for love.  Bobby, played by Haley Joel Osment, is just a kid but already, we assume, tossed around by life and dropped down on a path of crime.  Donny Dubrow, played by Cedric the Entertainer is the stable, though opportunistically criminal, owner of the wonderously cuttered junk shop — an alter ego of the rich clutter of lived lives.  They seem like losers but when, through a series of torturous misfires they come to understand the love that keeps them together, sublimity enters.  They’re in a new place — though it’s still Donny’s junkshop.

It’s too bad this play has a limited run and is closing tomorrow, November 23 but, having just seen it, I’m reviewing it because there’ll be other chances to see it.  Like the object of desire in the play, the American Buffalo nickel, it’s an American Classic.