American Buffalo

American Buffalo was, two years after its 1975 debut in Chicago, David Mamet's first play to reach Broadway. (He was then all of 30 years old.) Acclaimed by critics, it's been revived ever since. Ostensibly a two-act drama about the planning of a coin theft, it's as much a parsing of English language—Mamet's arch refinement of criminal diction, an elocution lesson for a vernacular that doesn't really exist. Or rather, one that the playwright coined: Mamet-speak™. It is the idiom of three petty thieves who wax grandiloquent without bothering to check dictionary meanings. Half of what they say is risibly wrong, but their point is always clear. Crime, business, getting ahead, conning and conniving—it's all the same to them. They may be on the bottom of the Ford-Carter malaise decade, but they have a vital, profane striving to them. Or to put it in Mamet-speak™: Small-timers talk big. Hans Altwies plays the elder, ringleader Teach; Charles Leggett and Zachary Simonson play his young, not-bright acolytes. Wilson Milam directs. BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 11. Continues through Feb. 3, 2013

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