THE BASICS: The twenty-sixth edition of a perennial favorite–an evening of short shorts at of the Alleyway Theatre, often regional or world premieres, and many by WNY playwrights. Joyce Stilson directs a cast of five. QUICKIES plays weekends through March 11th. The program, with its single intermission, runs about 90 minutes. See Facebook.
GUNS AND ROSES: The opening sketch, by Mike Randall, is a cheerful, rather silly offering about a couple of aging boomer parents, whose quirky plans to freshen up their staid lives result in the long-awaited departure of their “failure to launch” son. GUNS is best when it’s not trying to be a civics lesson. Chris Standart and Stephanie Bax shine as the looney tune parents.
ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE! A couple of cheesy radio hosts interview a reputed time traveler from five years hence (??). Odd, and, despite a decent final zinger, decidedly less funny than you might think. All I really wanted to know is whether we had successfully impeached Trump!
INFLUENCE A fine little domestic drama by Jennifer Tromble, using class distinctions as the lynch pin. Grievously harmed by the casting of Timothy Patrick Finnegan as Stephanie Bax’s son. I never could get past it. Casting matters!
CLOWNTIME IS OVER Another weirdo comedy, the 4 am encounter of a young live-in couple. She’s a clown (in full regalia); he’s with the police. Becky Globus’ discourse on the sacred fundamentals of clownhood had my wife (and probably many others) tittering. I was simply baffled. The final zinger does not rescue this one, at least in my opinion.
A FIT OF PIQUE This going-on-a-date sketch by Alleyway favorite Mark Harvey Levine is propelled by the extreme quirkiness of the female protagonist, and the less flamboyant quirkiness of her chaperone sister. Stephanie Bax is very funny in the Jekyll-and-Hyde lead, although I think, from cues in the script, that Ms Globus might have been a better fit. Standart proves that bigger is NOT always better.
WHEN BLIZZARD BABIES TURN TO STONE Some may find this little drama of dueling, damaged former lovers high art, even poetic. It seemed like a whole lot of malarkey to this first (and likely last) time viewer. And I use the term “viewer” reluctantly, as the entire encounter takes place in a very dark apartment, during a power outage. Oy! NB: There are a lot of references to Medusa; you might do well to Google her if you are planning to attend!
SURVIVAL STRATEGY They saved the best for last. Donna Hoke’s at-the-office sketch about a couple of not-so-happily married (to others) coworkers bemoaning their Valentines Day experiences is smart, funny, nicely written. It’s been well cast, too; Bax and Finnegan are both in good form here. I could picture Carol Burnett doing it with Tim Conway on her old TV show.
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!