A large enthusiastic audience attended opening night of Buffalo Quickies at the Alleyway Theater. This is the 26th year Alleyway has presented this series of short, one act plays, all of which are regional or world premieres. The plays this year range from slapstick to melodrama, with lots of fun and angst in between.
In “Guns and Roses” by Mike Randall, Christopher Standart is outstanding as the father explaining to his 27-year-old millennial son (Kyle Baran) who lives in the basement why he and his wife (Stephanie Bax) decided to buy handguns. The dialogue is very clever as the straight Catholic parents turn the tables on their confused and hapless son, who is completely mystified by the changes in his “pistol packin’ parents.”
“Absolutely Unbelievable” by Bella Poynton isn’t as successfully comedic. The writing is repetitive, and the actors (Becky Globus, Timothy Patrick Finnegan, Mr. Standart) didn’t seem comfortable with it. When it ended, I was left with the sense that the dialogue existed merely as a set-up to be gotten through in a hurry to get to the punchline at the end.
“Influence” by Jennifer Tromble is the most dramatic of the plays, and manages to be very funny, too. Ms. Bax as Marie is first-rate as the working class mother whose son Michael (Mr. Finnegan) married “above” him to a woman who is blind to their 8-year-old daughter’s needs. Ms. Bax handled the many colors of the irreverent, hilarious, coarse, loving Marie with grace and ease. Mr. Finnegan struggled with his love for his mother, his responsibilities to his wife, and his concern for his daughter. This play is heartfelt and humorous in its depiction of the love and tension between mother and son.
“Clowntime Is Over” by J. Snodgrass is goofy fun, with a touch of intriguing dialogue about the purpose of clowns (to terrorize children as preparation for the real world). Ms. Globus is Bozo with a feminine twist, and would win a contest, hands down, on who can dance longest on one foot while waving arms in the air. Mr. Baran as her exhausted cop fiancee is an excellent foil for her and the very funny (“sanity is a social convention”) and silly dialogue.
In “A Fit of Pique” by Mark Harvey Levine, Ms. Bax channels Georgette from the Mary Tyler Moore show, with a blond wig, soft words, and simpering smile. That is, until she turns into a monster because her sister (Ms. Globus) stops annoying her because her date (Mr.Finnegan) doesn’t think it’s a good idea and who is in turn annoyed at the gay waiter (Mr. Standart) who falls in love with her. Whew! Exhausting, and rather weird in a strange horror kind of way.
“When Blizzard Babies Turn To Stone” by Justin Karcher is a mystery…to me. It takes place during a Buffalo blizzard when the electricity is out. Nicole (Ms. Globus) calls her ex-lover Mike (Mr. Baran) in the middle of the night to come over and start her generator. Possibilities there for double entendres, but we are not to be so lucky. The actors are in the dark, literally. The dense dialogue about the Gorgon Medusa, the meaning of snakes in one’s hair (as opposed to on a plane?), drinking, a flaccid penis, the limits of poetry, and chiropractic eyes felt like code for two lonely people who would like to cuddle on the couch to wait out the storm, but are too neurotic and afraid to just say so.
“Survival Strategy” by Donna Hoke capped the night, and what a sweet and funny end to the evening. Mr. Finnegan and Ms. Bax are charming as office friends chatting at her desk the morning after Valentine’s Day about their evening with their spouses. Hugs all around on this one. (That’s a clue).
The simple set pieces are moved quickly and efficiently between plays so there are no long lulls for the audience to get restless during and sneak peeks at electronic devices. The direction by Joyce Stilson is crisp and keeps the action moving, with each play having its own feel, and sense of time and place.
Buffalo Quickies affords a great opportunity to be absorbed in seven different worlds in a short period of time. Some are more engaging than others, but all have something to say about us and the worlds in which we live.