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Review: Who was the star of American Buffalo for me?

Tom Sturridge (Bob) in American Buffalo at Wyndham's Theatre. Credit Johan Persson (10)
Tom Sturridge (Bob) in American Buffalo at Wyndham's Theatre. Photographer: Johan Persson

Looking back to when I saw American Buffalo on Wednesday, it all seems at bit of a blur now. A blur apart from one character.

@pcchan1981 would say it's a blur because it was boring but I certainly didn't think that when I was watching it. Some plays are like that, you enjoy them at the time and then they fade quickly. Others don't really make their mark until the days after.

But in thinking back there is one character who sticks in my mind and that's Tom Sturridge's Bob. Damian Lewis' Teach was a needy mix of entitlement and hypocrisy and John Goodman's Don is beautifully conflicted. But then there is Bob.

To put it in context, just a few days before I had seen Tom Sturridge playing a handsome cad, dressed in military red in the film Far From a Madding Crowd. Bob couldn't be more different and it is always a treat to see actors showing off their range.

But that is the only reason Bob sticks in my mind. In the play he is an 'ex' heroin addict whom junk shop owner Don has taken under his wing as a sort of protege.

Thin frame, head shaved with a sore on his face he looks likes he's slept in the gutter in his overly baggy clothes. He moves and talks like he's a little bit stoned or struggling to keep up and when he stops he holds on to things or leans. I didn't know whether I wanted to shake him or take him home for good meal. I found my attention drawn to him, watching what he was doing whenever he was in scene.

The play's power, for me, is in how Bob affects Don and Teach. Don is plotting with Bob to steal back a buffalo nickel he sold believing it is worth a lot more than the original price he got for it. Teach, on hearing of the plot, thinks he'll do a much better job of it than Bob and sets about persuading Don to drop Bob and use him instead.

Teach, despite being overbearing, does seem like a wiser choice but it is Bob who ultimately proves the better friend and most loyal to Don. We learn a lot about Don and Teach just in their relationship with Bob, how they treat him and how they react to him.

So for me Bob and Tom Sturridge are the stars of American Buffalo and what I will remember about it, far more than Damian Lewis' moustache that everyone seems so obsessed about.

American Buffalo runs at the Wyndhams Theatre until June 27 and is two hours with an interval.

More production shots here or click on the slide show below

* I queued for day seats to see this and arrived just after 9am to find only five people in front of me in the queue. By the time the box office opened at 10am only one other person had joined the queue. I didn't confirm details with the box office but the people in the queue seemed to think the allocation was 12 tickets (max 2 per person) per performance. Location is at box office discretion and those in front of me got front row or row E, Poly and I were given seats in a box which was a lovely surprise. Those at the front of the queue had arrived very early and I imagine that Friday and Saturdays are going to be more popular.


This is an easy one because Tom Sturridge is the beau of Sienna Miller who played Mr W's girlfriend in Layer Cake. If you haven't seen Layer Cake then you should, you won't see Mr W play a part quite like it.