THE BASICS: THE TAMING, a play by Lauren Gunderson presented by The Brazen-Faced Varlets, directed by Lara D. Haberberger, starring Jennifer Fitzery, Jessica Leigh Tokarski, Emily Yancey, Stefanie Warnick has only four remaining shows: Fridays and Saturdays, 10/26, 10/27, 11/2, and 11/3 at 8:00 pm at Alleyway’s Cabaret Space, 672 Main Street. (598-1585). $15 for students/seniors and $20 for general admission. Runtime: A little under two hours including one intermission.
THUMBNAIL SKETCH: On the eve of the final day of the Miss America Pageant, Katherine, “Miss Georgia” kidnaps a conservative senate aide and a liberal blogger with hopes of using her status to end the political divisions that wrack America by rewriting the U.S. Constitution. Is that so farfetched? After all, the original document is itself a rewrite of the Articles of Confederation, and the current Constitution has 27 Amendments.
THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: If you liked the snappy dialog and overall “smarts” of the television show THE WEST WING and if HAMILTON the musical has sparked your appreciation of “The Founding Fathers” as flawed individuals using their best skills to create a new nation, then you will like THE TAMING.
The play features Jennifer Fitzery as Patricia, the hard-working, highly competent aide (think WEST WING) working for a doofus conservative senator; Emily Yancey who was recently nominated for an Artie Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical for KILLER RACK as Bianca, the liberal blogger; Stefanie Warnick who was recently in the Artie nominated Outstanding Ensemble for the Varlets’ DESDEMONA: A PLAY ABOUT A HANDKERCHIEF, as Katherine, “Miss Georgia” competing for “Miss America” and Jessica Leigh Tokarski as the Stage Manager.
The premise of Act I is delightfully goofy with lots of contemporary liberal-conservative back and forth, but the real meat of the message comes in Act II.
The show is directed by Lara D. Haberberger who was recently nominated for an Artie for Outstanding Direction for the Varlets’ production of ‘NIGHT MOTHER.
The premise of Act I is delightfully goofy with lots of contemporary liberal-conservative back and forth, but the real meat of the message comes in Act II. Here the actresses change roles and the very self-assured aide Patricia wakes up to find that she’s now James Madison putting the final touches on the Constitution, and suddenly things aren’t so obviously black and white, especially on the issue of slavery. Her bête-noir is Southern politician Charles Pinckney, played by Emily Yancey, and there’s pressure from George Washington (Stefanie Warnick) to speed things up and come to a compromise.
Is this the right time for this play? You betcha! In fact, on Thursday, October 25, regarding the bombs sent in the mail to a number of Trump critics, in response to NPR’s question “Is political unity possible in this moment as many are calling for?” N.Y. State Governor Andrew Cuomo replied “Look, we haven’t had political unity since our Founding Fathers!” How true.
While Rust Belt Books is one of Buffalo’s great shopping experiences, their back room isn’t the best venue for plays. The Alleyway’s Main Street Cabaret space (on the Main Street end of the building in “The heart of The Theatre District”) has its own challenges (the stage has no wings nor backstage area) but it is bigger. That’s good now and will be very good when warm weather returns.
UP NEXT: Another very topical play, THE SECRETARY by Kyle John Schmidt, about women and gun ownership.
Photos courtesy The Brazen-Faced Varlets
*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!