Through July 10|
BUFFALO QUICKIES Alleyway Theatre/Main Street
There are always those conversations about people going to shows at the Shaw Festival or the Stratford Shakespeare Festival about going on the trek.
I don’t ever remember when going to a show in the Theatre District became a trek.
Reflecting these times, the Alleyway Theatre is doing something really different,
Our Group D on the night I saw the latest show started with Bruce Walsh’s Grown-Ass Louis and moved around to five other sites for the other five plays of this year’s Buffalo Quickies.
Not only are there six plays in the annual compendium but each has a different cast and a different director and the cast performs behind a window and the audience sits in chairs on the sidewalk for five of the six shows.
That other show is Lauren Davenport’s Pay Your Ferryman with Victor Morales’ Charon the boatman on the floor of the Alleyway’s Main Stage while the audience sits on stage.
It’s clearly to deal with the concerns about wearing or not wearing masks in these COVID times, with only Charon’s show requiring a mask.
In the past four decades of Buffalo Quickies, it’s been a mélange of plays each season, a relatively small cast of players switching among the plays in the shows, quick scene changes and up and down short plays.
Here, each window and the Main Stage has its own cast, its own director, even its own production staff (and, of course, the people who take the groups around from show to show.
It actually works pretty well, although the night we saw the show, there were sound problems with Devon Hayakawa’s Lily and Tessa's Super Star Show, Episode 37 .
The audio difficulties make it not quite clear what’s going on in the show.
Short plays are always difficult because it’s hard to make the playwright’s point in a play which only runs a few minutes.
It seems to be a show about two tweens and sexuality, although we only meet Lily.
Director Robyn Lee Horn makes effective use of the Alleyway’s Main Street window and a flanking display window for the show.
Of course, a much longer play may actually be a short play s.t.r.e.t.c.h.e.d out.
The most poignant play is Rachel Lynett’s In Transit, with Victoria Perez and Smirna Mercedes as two women running into each other in Atlanta Airport.
They have an intimate history and talk a little about where they are now and promise to get together soon, knowing it will never happen.
Too much water under the bridge.
It’s an example of how a short play can tell a revealing story very quickly.
Eliza Randall and Sam Norman’s musical The Yellow Wallpaper is a look at women in a far different time.
The central character apparently has acute post-partum problems and is confined to a room in a Victorian asylum with penetrating yellow wallpaper, visited by her husband and her sister-in-law.
This segment of “Quickies” is actually a musical, I suspect, looking toward a far longer, more standard length show
There’s little understanding of how mentally ill she is and that just putting her in that one room probably is a really bad idea.
The earphones given to the customer are tuned to a different color and the color for this segment is solid yellow.
Director Susan Drozd had the prescience to cast three performers with a lot of musical experiences, Amy Jakiel, Kelly Copps and Steve Copps, with Philip Farugia somewhere around as music director, in a staging at the main entrance to the Shea’s stage door.
Alex Lin’s Helen Mirren Takes a Day Off is a little different angle, with the title character trying to take a day off and being constantly bedeviled by phone calls, some of which she wants to take and some she could do without.
Director Steve Vaughan and Shanntina Moore’s Helen are a little over-the-top here, although as most people know theater people can be a little over-the-top.
Back to “Louis,” it’s a look at a man who loses his father at a very early age and takes up a friendship with an adult advisor and his adult desire to understand what happened and come to terms with the death of a parent.
Every play is an attempt to deal with a time and a place, Shaw or Shakespeare for example, while this year of is a very successful attempt to deal with a time and a plague.
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