Thursday Theater Roundup
In the wake of the seriously unsettling and hotly criticized news that Erie County Executive Chris Collins plans to slash funding to every single theater (and many other local cultural groups) in the county, now might be a good time to survey the landscape of worthy theatrical productions happening across the city.
Yes, it's our weekly Thursday Theatre Roundup -- which, if Collins has his way, may be looking a lot slimmer come next fall. (But, given the unassailable momentum of the local arts community and its manifold survivalistic instincts, probably not.) Below, we list the local productions our reviewers have flagged as their faves:
"The Pride," through Oct. 9 in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre. From the review: "...one of Campbell’s many skills as a playwright is seamlessly weaving together the characters in a way that drives his point thoroughly home. His writing, though it sometimes leans too heavily on one or another melodramatic formula, is at once utterly believable and infused with a sweet and rhythmic poetry that puts one in mind of Tony Kushner." --Colin Dabkowski
"Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill," through Oct. 10 in the Paul Robeson Theatre. From the review: "Joyce Carolyn tells Billie [Holiday's] story on stage at the Paul Robeson Theatre in Lanie Robertson’s biographical revue, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” She does so carefully, and with respect for the material of this household name. Where many resort to impersonation, Carolyn gives her interpretation of that raspy, caged voice. Occasionally a note or trill sneaks in the fragility of Holiday’s vibrato, but never without musical merit and hardly in abundance... The same cannot be said for Robertson's script." --Ben Siegel
Brian Mysliwy and Patrick Moltane in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's production of "The Cant." Photo by Bill Wippert / Buffalo News.
"The Cant," EXTENDED THROUGH OCT. 8 in the Andrews Theatre in an Irish Classical Theatre Company production. From the review: "...a well-plotted thriller that gets to the heart of the Irish Traveller’s intrinsic sorrow, their abuse at the hands of the powerful and the survivalistic instincts that keep them forever on the run." --Colin Dabkowski
"Trace," through Oct. 10 in the Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle in a Torn Space Theater production. From the review: "Like [Dan Shanahan's] previous pieces, the consumerist critique “Stivale” and the horrifying quasi-mystery 'AREA,' the piece occupies a fertile realm somewhere between visual art and performance. It includes the odd piece of pointed dialogue ('I have come to accept in these hours the rules of efficient terror,' one character says), but more often derives its haunting and visceral power from the indelible and thoroughly unsettling images it creates." --Colin Dabkowski
"Ruined," through Oct. 10 in TheatreLoft in a Ujima Theatre Company production. From the review: "Inspired in part by Bertolt Brecht’s 'Mother Courage and Her Children,' Nottage’s play is an exploration of the way in which men’s battles, as its characters demonstrate with unsettling clarity, play out on the bodies of women. Though the pulsating poetry of Nottage’s writing spins off on rare occasions into the realm of melodrama, the play manages to sustain a near-constant tone of realism and tension that kidnaps our attention and doesn’t let go until long after the final word of dialogue is spoken." --Colin Dabkowski
Natalie Mack, Matt Witten, Kelly Meg Brennan and Luke Wager in Road Less Traveled Productions' "The Couple Next Door." Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News.
"The Couple Next Door," through Oct. 3 in the Road Less Traveled Theater. From the review: "'The Couple Next Door' is the winner of the Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop. Playwright Hoke can write: dialogue flows naturally, real people saying real things, albeit sex-crazed f-bombs. Abrupt ending aside, the story has verve, it lives and breathes. Stellar ensemble work by actors Brennan, Wager, Witten and Mack, each having their say, difficult roles all, cast chemistry very evident." --Ted Hadley
"Mookie Cranks a Tater," through Oct. 2 in the Alleyway Theatre. From the review: "Palka has written a very funny play, situationally and every other way. Stay alert for wry and wacky comments on a variety of subjects, sex and sexuality, of course, but also politics, pretense, our weaknesses and fears and what Palka calls the 'discoveries of the human condition.' Be prepared to laugh it up." --Ted Hadley