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December 06, 1995 - Image 10

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-12-06

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10- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 6, 1995

Basement Arts tackles c

By Paul Spiteri
For the Daily
If theater were music, then David
Mamet would be the Scott Joplin of
the playwriting world. Like Joplin's
ragtime, Mamet has the ability to bring
different and often conflicting themes
into harmony. Joplin used melodies,
Mamet uses drama.
Since performing Joplin is much
harder than it looks, as any piano hack
who has ever tried to pick up and play
"The Entertainer" will tell you, it is
American
Buffalo
Arena Theater
December 2, 1995
not surprising that Mamet's plays are
often regarded as needing more preci-
sion than most. This weekend's pro-
duction of Mamet's "American Buf-
falo," showed both the pitfalls and the
rewards of such complexity.
In his directorial debut, senior the-

ater major Adam Eisenstein con-
structed a production that held many
moments deserving of a larger stage
than the basement of the Frieze Build-
ing. The most difficult aspect of
Mamet's plays lie in their attention to
detail. In the dance of dialogue on the
stage, it was obvious that Eisenstein's
hand had polished many of the inflec-
tions and pauses within the play. These
small details are what make Mamet's
plays complex but wonderful, and this
production showed these strengths.
Unfortunately, this production also
displayed the weaknesses of a less
than perfect performance.
Within the small and mostly~ tal-
ented cast, freshman theater major
Matthew Clifford seemed miscast in
the role of Bobby. His character's
dazed and melancholy disposition
came across as more of a lack of
interest than a true lack of under-
standing his surroundings. Instead of
being vulnerable and somewhat
helpless, Clifford appeared flippant,
often trudging around the stage with
a snickering half-smile that brought
giggles to the audience at inappro-
priate times.

hallenges
Happily, the othertwo roles seemed
excellently suited to the actors play-
ing them. Robert Macadaeg, cast as
Donny Dubrow, truly captured the
essence of his character. Macadaeg' s
relaxed but potentially explosive de-
meanor matched the fatherly but
mostly selfish Dubrow.
In the most difficult role of Teach
sophomore theater major Bernardo
de Paula came away with his share of
applause despite a few missed lines
and stutters. The character's paranoia
and mixed motivations came across
with de Paula's nervous and fidgeting
motions. The roots of Teach's para-
noia appear deep, and de Paula de-:
serves much of the credit for the play's
success.
All in all, this weekend's produc-
tion of "American Buffalo" showed
the potential of Basement Arts to
tackle the most challenging and diffi-
cult works available to them. Its weak-
nesses of casting and a sometimes
unpolished look can be forgiven in
the lack of experience of some df its
crew. But audiences should look for-
ward to see more of these talented
performers in the future.

~~
AL.

50
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