Andrea and I, as previously mentioned, snuck off to that there Lunnon on Wednesday to see Damien Lewis in the David Mamet play, American Buffalo, which I had unilaterally decided was called Buffalo Soldiers, which confused me, and everyone else I talked to about it.
My ex husband is a great fan of Mamet. He considers Glengarry Glenross one of the finest things in existence. I do not share this opinion of it, finding it rather too blokey. I believe I may have experience more Mamet with the ex, but can’t remember it clearly, which goes to show that I was obviously deeply influenced by it/him.
Basically we went because we wanted to see Damien live on stage, and would have turned up to the opening of an envelope had we been able to get tickets. Mamet’s greatness or otherwise was simply not a factor in booking it.
We were so clueless in fact that we didn’t even know John Goodman was in it until the stage lights went up.
The good news:
The play was fantastic. Lively, funny, dark and tragic, and so, so sharp. I loved it. If you grew up reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Rumblefish, it was very reminiscent of those books. I did grow up reading and loving them, and consequently I thought the play was terrific.
The acting was fantastic. Goodman was brilliant. I had suspected he might be excellent, given the fact that he appears in a lot of Coen brothers’ material and I rate them enormously, but you never know how a seasoned film actor is going to come across on stage. He totally nailed it in what was a terrific performance in which he was on stage for the entire duration of the play.
Damien was superb. We predicted it would be so, and we were right. I particularly enjoyed the fact that he was not required to be gorgeous, or suave or any of the things people like Damien Lewis for. He was difficult and mercurial and sometimes downright vile in this play and it was utterly refreshing to see. He was also superb in terms of comic timing and delivery.
The play was a three hander. The third of the trio was an actor called Tom Sturridge. I’ve never seen anything he’s been in, but apparently he lives with Sienna Miller, which is nice for him. He was also great in his role, and the whole thing was a beautiful piece of acting teamwork.
One other bonus was the audience. As you know, Andrea and I have very stringent and punitive views on audiences, and with most ‘talkers’ we would feel compelled to kill them right away, especially with tickets that cost this much. On this occasion however, we had a real treat.
The play was billed as having ‘explicit’ language. We knew this because there was a huge poster in the foyer warning about this ‘explicit’ language in case you were faint of heart and had never won fair maid.
The two elderly ladies behind us had clearly omitted to read this poster, and when Damien made his entrance they said excitedly: ‘Here he is!’ at which Andrea and I exchanged weary looks.
Then Damien opened his mouth and delivered a five minute monologue laden with the most explicit of explicit language including at least half a dozen uses of the word C***T.
Every time he said this, or fuck, or shit, or whatever else they considered explicit, one of the old women would say: ‘Oh God!’ or ‘Shush!’ or ‘Oh! Oh!’
The other lady would say: ‘Oh! I’m sorry,’ or ‘I’m so sorry’.
There was a lot of this, because there was a great deal of language.
It was hilarious.
At the interval they discussed with great intensity how they had never been so shocked in their lives, and then proceeded to sit through the second half with exactly the same responses.
They were like the old lady versions of Stadtler and Waldorf but more genteel.
It takes a great deal of dedication to be that outraged.
Afterwards, one lady was discussing with the other lady how she had never in all her life said the C***T word.
Then she gave a huge giggle and said: ‘I’m going to say it now.’
Her friend gasped as the first lady said: ‘CUNT.’
At which they both left the theatre immeasurably richer for the experience.