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Friday, Jan. 6, 2006

Life on the American edge

Theatre Project Tokyo tackles David Mamet play

"American Buffalo' was Chicago-born David Mamet's first Broadway play, debuting there in 1977 a year after it had picked up a prestigious Obie Award as Best New American Play.

Mamet's breakthrough work has now become a groundbreaker for the tpt's (Theatre Project Tokyo) Hiroshi Kadoi, who, after producing Mamet's "Sexual Perversity" in Chicago and "Duck Variations" in 2004, here makes his directorial debut. It is one built on a solid foundation of previous international collaborations and workshops with the likes of Britain's David Leveaux and American Robert Ackerman.

The play (in Japanese) revolves around the plans of three men on how to get rich quick and make their materialistic, capitalist American Dream come true. They aim to achieve this by robbing a customer who days before bought a 5 cent coin bearing a buffalo motif for $90 from a junk shop run by Don (Akira Yamamoto). Later, Don, his assistant Bob (Taigo Fujisawa), and an old friend, Teach (Toru Tezuka), become obsessed with the idea that the coin is worth a fortune, and if they get it back, it could change their lives.

The play is fraught with confusion and foul-mouthed quarreling between Don, Bob and Teach, as each gives vent to their frustrations and comments on the dog-eats-dog world in which they live. As the translator Atsuo Hirota says in the program notes, "Such self-contradictory, blind stupidity of the three men obviously ensures they stay losers. This human stupidity has not changed from Chekhov's aristocratic society."

"American Buffalo" runs through Jan. 6 (7 p.m.) and Jan 7-8 (2 p.m., 7 p.m.) at Benisan Pit Theater, a 5-min. walk from Morishita Station on the Oedo and Toei Shinjuku subway lines, or an 8-min. walk from Ryogoku Station (JR Sobu Line, Oedo subway line).

For tickets, call tpt at (03) 3635-6355 or visit www.tpt.co.jp (in Japanese only).

(Nobuko Tanaka)

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