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THE BOY AT THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING at Theater of Youth should spark some good family dialog (if you have time for that).

THE BASICS: THE BOY AT THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING, a 2012 play by Irish-Australian-Tasmanian Finegan Kruckemeyer presented by Theatre of Youth (a play for children ages 11+) runs through February 4, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at the Allendale Theatre 203 Allen St. (884-4400). www.theatreofyouth.org Runtime: 70 minutes without intermission.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH: Twelve-year-old Simon Ives would like to stop his over-scheduled world from spinning and just be. Be what? He doesn’t know, because he’s never had the opportunity what with this lesson and that practice and homework and clubs and on and on. Through a bit of highly entertaining stagecraft, Simon is transported to the very edge of the ever-expanding universe where The Boy at the Edge of Everything lives by himself, lonely and bored. And, they help each other. This play is entertaining for parents and their kids and should start some valuable conversations, perhaps on the way to soccer practice or violin lessons, or both.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: The cast of five, all in their 20s, displays great skill in portraying the assigned ages of nine characters, from actor Brendan Didio playing Simon’s annoying kid brother, to Bobby MacDonell as Simon, whose youthful energy is slowly being sapped, to Amy Jakiel and Nick Stevens who, as evidenced by their performances in other plays and venues, are “old souls” and move believably into the roles of mom and dad, to Dan Urtz (The Boy at the Edge) who is often cast as characters that are a little bit “off-center.”

Credit for this consistency of vision, as well as the swirl of non-stop action on stage, must go to veteran director Chris Kelly.

Credit for this consistency of vision, as well as the swirl of non-stop action on stage, must go to veteran director Chris Kelly. Kelly is a good Buffalo actor, but he is a GREAT director. Tip: Anytime you see that Kelly is directing a play, whatever the venue, whatever the play, whatever part of town, even if it’s outside your personal entertainment rut, just go.

As to the play, I would pitch it as “Thornton Wilder’s classic OUR TOWN is presented as an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE.” The lesson in most TWILIGHT ZONE shows is that once you get what you think you want, it doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would and you’d like to go back and get a “do-over.” Simon Ives gets that do-over.

A big lesson in the play OUR TOWN is that we don’t appreciate what we’ve got until we get away and look back. “Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you” says Emily in that play gazing down on earth, and Simon echoes that in this play.

I might not have compared the two except for a very special moment where Simon’s family is at the dinner table (Simon meanwhile is at the edge of the universe) and for a brief second Nick Stevens, as the dad, looks over at the plate where his son should be. It’s a small gesture, but I immediately started fumbling around for a tissue thinking “I’ve felt this before…. whenever I see OUR TOWN.”

The props and multiple use set (one spinning construction is a high school bulletin board, a backyard shed, a home at the edge of everything and probably more it all happens so fast) are a delight (Kenneth Shaw, Head of Design) and with over 100 lighting and sound cues in 70 minutes Chester Popiolkowski (Sound) and John Rickus (Lighting) keep things moving.

Now it’s up to us, as parents, to keep the conversation going.

The remaining 2017-18 TOY Mainstage Season includes: JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK (Ages 6+) March 1-25, 2018 and STELLALUNA (Ages 4+) Mary 5 – June 2, 2018.

*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 trip to 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!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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