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American Buffalo

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  4,242 ratings  ·  98 reviews
The play won the NY Drama Critics Circle Award for best play of the 1977 season & was nominated for two Tony Awards: Best Direction of a Play & Best Scenic Design (Santo Loquasto). It received four Drama Desk Award nominations, including Outstanding New American Play.
The 1983 revival was nominated for the Tony Award, Best Reproduction & the Drama Desk Award,
Paperback, 106 pages
Published January 1st 1977 by Grove Press (first published 1975)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,242 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"American Buffalo" gives us a sliver of insight into a subculture of ruffians, gamblers & thieves. Nothing--not property, friends, loyalty or history--nothing absolutely trumps the $. Nothing! & although you perceive some tenderhearted brotherhoodsian moments between the three main (& only) players, their nastiness towards one another prevails: it is our main entree.

The taut, closed-circuited anecdote is about not allowing your eyes be fooled, so that when the proverbial "rug" is
Carac Allison
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing

The Student/Teacher, Mentor/Innocent, Parent/Child relationship is important in many of Mamet's plays. In "American Buffalo" Don is the owner of a junk shop and Bobby is a kid with a troubled past who runs errands for him. Don looks out for Bobby and Bobby wants to do right by Don.

The other third of the cast is Teach. Three characters, one set and a phone. That's it and that's more than enough.

"Sexual Perversity in Chicago" and the "Duck Variations" announced Mamet as a new voice in American
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
Some plays are so great that, even when reading the script, you can imagine the whole thing and it's fabulous. This isn't one of them.
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theatre
This is a tough, nasty little play that is stylistically and thematically very much in line with other things I have seen from Mamet, e.g. House of Games, Homicide, and Glengarry Glen Ross. The short, sharp lines of dialogue, the greed, the rough-edged characters are all there. And what Mamet does best is here too: the unpredictable twists and turns the plot takes, the surprises, and the explosions of the obvious.

The story concerns Teach and Don, two petty crooks who operate out of a junk shop.
May 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
(My reaction before opening the play and simply looking at the back cover:)
Oh goody, a play for three men. There really aren't enough roles for men in American drama. SARCASM


So, when I was a young little actor, I worshiped Mamet for his snappy and crude dialogue, his anger, and his general "forget everything, life sucks" style of drama. I loved how nasty Sexual Perversity in Chicago was.

But this? Not so much.

When I look at this play I just see a cranky Mamet mess. This whole thing is just kind
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
First staged in Chicago in 1975, this gritty drama by David Mamet explores issues of business, friendship, and loyalty among three members of the urban underclass. Donnie is a middle-aged owner of a junk shop, Bobby is his young protégé, apparently a recovering addict who idolizes Donnie and wants desperately to please him, and Teach, a brash and easily offended ne’er-do-well who discovers that Donnie has sold a rare American Buffalo-head nickel to a customer and now wants it back. Originally ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I believe I liked this more than the Mrs. We saw an amateur production in Ohio the next day.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
American Book Review, a play by David Mamet

Interior. Lights up on DAVID MAMET and COLEMAN, who are standing in a room, somewhere, who knows where, nobody knows.
DM: You checked out my play?
C: Yeah.
DM: You read it?
C: Yeah.
DM: You like it?
C: Uh huh.
DM: I mean, you think it’s good?
C: It’s good.
DM: Yeah?
C: Yeah. It’s a good play.
DM: Good.
C: Only-
DM: What? What only?
C: Only I didn’t read it.
DM: You didn’t read it?
C: What I mean is, I listened to it.
DM: You listened to it.
Louis Spirito
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm taking an online course from David Mamet and had to reread the play. Ironically, thanks to the playwright who introduced us to street-speak, the play now feels overly familiar, as if we've seen/heard thousands of stories like it. But Mamet's originality and dramatic craft elevate this above nearly all the subsequent imitations.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best American plays I've ever read; i would love to see it performed....dont want to see the movie.
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Nick M. S.
American Buffalo is a book by David Mamet about a couple of crooks that are planning a heist of a rich man’s house. The story takes place in the main character’s junk shop in the 70s. there are only 3 characters in this play--Don, Teach and Bob.
Although the story has a lot of salty language and violence (stuff I usually Love to read about), I didn’t really connect with ay of the characters. I felt that the characters were not relatable to me. I enjoyed the guessing in the beginning of
Mary Slowik
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mature audiences
Shelves: drama
Good stuff. Obviously there's the sharp dialogue and "gritty" aspect to this one, but what I really enjoyed was that characters actually misspeak and interrupt each other, lines overlapping. The story of the play works to defy expectations, with the climactic violence directed as much inward as outward. People reveal their true natures in a crisis-- and this play demonstrates that with a nicely slow-burning plot. It's a dark crash course in psychology, which brought to (my) mind nothing except ...more
Mike Merrill
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Movie made more sense... Its ok but not a fave
Nick Jones
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
David Mamet’s fourth play. If his first three felt like apprentice work, this is the real thing – a proper Mamet play. The first three were full of formal playfulness, the work of a young playwright discovering the possibilities of the medium; in American Buffalo the formal razzmatazz has been integrated into a more consistent whole – the conventions now being used are those of American realism. Three characters, one set, two scenes. There’s something classical about this – but then the detail ...more
Wade Stotts
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
It’s become fashionable to shit on David Mamet, but the man is arguably the most important playwright of the past fifty years. He revolutionized dialogue, not just in theater but in all art, and inspired a generation of writers (most notably filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson). This play was his first masterpiece and it is an iambic assault of f-bombs and machine gun speak, but it’s in the structure that it really shines.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Mamet (and Shepard as well) did that rapid fire dialogue that sounds like it's normal half the time, but laden with menace, and then is menacing the other time but said in a purr. It's fun but after a bit the schtick gets tiresome. Like there's only one vein in this series of plays he did for a period of time and they were all like this. But this one is great with just 3 cast members, Mamet runs through a triangle of deceit and criminality and trust and the lack thereof.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I honestly had a hard time following the story, which is not an issuse I have had with other Mamet plays I have read. I am left wondering what Teach thought Bob had or had not done, or what Don was even trying to string together in terms of the job, or jobs, or what exactly getting this coin back was supposed to accomplish, or what coin number 2 was all about. Am I being obtuse? This is the 4th play I have read of his, and the only one that has left me utterly confused.
Rosaleen Lynch
American Buffalo is not my favourite Mamet even though I recognise its quality. The exploration of relationships and the American Dream and the limits of and betrayals in both is poignant but I don't enjoy characters who remind me of hopelessness however depressingly realistic they might be. I reserve ultimate judgement though for when I see it at the theatre.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Don't read it unless you see the Dustin Hoffman / Dennis Franz movie first. On the page, it's nothing much; on screen, it's terrific. I saw it on Broadway with William H. Macy as Teach, but the film is better.
Cary S
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
Didn't really do much of anything for me...
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, 2017
One of Mamet's better earlier plays.
Jim Mcvoy
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had read that this was a classic tragedy. It was drivel as far as I could see. I must have missed the great part...
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Some dialogue lessons here.
Lenhardt Stevens
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous pacing. Explosive finale.
Michael Tarpinian
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don’t read a lot of plays. This is such a great story, well written, so it was fantastic. By the way, the Buffalo is not what you think it is.
Shourabh Shekhar
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An essential Dadiv Mamet play dealing with issues like loyalty in friendship, friendship in business and business in friendship - all in the business of stealing and cheating.
Ryan Dickson
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend reading this play about corruption in the business world. It really mirrors what is happening in today's world, specifically within the United States Government.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Didn’t expect to like it. But it’s a lean, mean, tense thriller.

All about the money.
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David Alan Mamet is an American author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and film director. His works are known for their clever, terse, sometimes vulgar dialogue and arcane stylized phrasing, as well as for his exploration of masculinity.

As a playwright, he received Tony nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). As a screenwriter, he received Oscar nominations for
“The whole entire world.
There is no law.
There is no right and wrong.
The world is lies.
There is no friendship.
Every fucking thing.
Every God-forsaken thing.”
More quotes…