Through May 13|
RUST AND REDEMPTION: Requiem for a Buffalo Grunge Band Compass Performing Arts Center/ART of Western New York
You know this play about a long-gone one-hit wonder grunge band is a Buffalo play because the song at issue is “Canalside Summer.”
Sidewalk Nickel is long gone and the heart of the band, Doug, is dead, with his heroin habit catching up with him.
In its brief heyday, the band fought in all of the ways bands do, uniting only in its hatred for Kevin, the bad guitar player leading a competing band.
Now, Nick (Cameron Kogut) has re-assembled the band because he’s playing in Kevin’s band and suggesting that band needs “Canalside Summer” for its repertoire.
Nick needs the old band members to sign off on transferring the song to Kevin.
The others have moved on, especially Russ (Charles McGregor), who works for a police department, processing videos showing traffic law violations and issuing tickets.
That includes Nick, who was caught.
J. Snodgrass’ “Rust and Redemption: Requiem for a Buffalo Grunge Band” is all of the tensions from the old days, mutated by Silvia (Sarah Emmerling), Doug’s daughter, as they argue and probe the past.
The fictional site of all of this is described as resembling one of the area’s classic dive bars, the Old Pink on Allen Street, with Lou (Monish Bhattacharyya) behind the bar.
Snodgrass does a fascinating job of displaying the tensions involved, past and present.
That’s particularly true of Silvia, who looks on what Nick is proposing as an attack on the father she never knew.
The band members try to explain Doug wasn’t the sole author of “Canalside Summer.’
The members of Sidewalk Nickel tell Silvia they worked out the song with Doug, together.
What would you decide about selling the song?
There probably isn’t a simple answer.
It’s fascinating because it seems so local, so close.
After all, many people knew or know someone in a band, whether grunge or not.
But, those stories about rhythm in the garage or lives out of tune are the subject of lots of talk and lots of jokes.
And those band members likely don’t ever forget that phase of their lives.
“Rust and Redemption” is a look at the key element in their lives and something to remember because it undoubtedly affects the advice they give to people later in life about the decisions they’re considering.
Director Matthew LaChiusa does a nice job with a strong cast, particularly Emerling and Kogut.
It’s worth seeing.
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