28th edi­tion of ‘Quick­ies’ runs gamut

The Buffalo News - - GUSTOSUNDAY - By An­thony Chase

The Buf­falo Quick­ies are the Al­ley­way The­atre’s an­nual lineup of short plays. Now in its 28th year, this year’s ros­ter fea­tures eight plays, all by lo­cal play­wrights, most of whom at­tended the open­ing, giv­ing the event a happy buzz.

The per­son­al­ity of the an­nual Quick­ies is de­fined as much by the ensem­ble of ac­tors as by the plays. This year’s quick and able crew in­cludes Stephanie Bax, mak­ing a sixth ap­pear­ance in the fes­ti­val; Dy­lan Brozyna; Jaimee Har­mon; Mike Starzyn­ski, ap­pear­ing for the 13th time; Shawnell Tillery; and An­drew Zuc­cari. Th­ese ac­tors gamely dive into the ma­te­rial, en­ter­ing as new char­ac­ters when­ever needed, and shift­ing the scenery be­tween plays.

The evening opens with veter­ans Starzyn­ski and Bax in “One Man Show,” by Mike Ran­dall. Starzyn­ski plays an ac­tor por­tray­ing Aaron Burr in a solo per­for­mance. He’s barely got­ten started when a heck­ler, played by Bax, be­gins to taunt him from the au­di­ence. She turns out to be an old and re­li­ably un­sup­port­ive friend.

It’s an en­ter­tain­ing con­ceit. It’s also some­what tra­di­tional to be­gin (and some­times to end) the Quick­ies with some­thing meta-the­atri­cal. Starzyn­ski and Bax eas­ily land the com­edy and get us off to an amus­ing start, un­der the di­rec­tion of Sa­man­tha Marchant.

Most of the evening’s plays have been directed by Joyce Stil­son. Carly Weiser has directed two. Sa­man­tha Marchant and Stephanie Riso have each directed one. They have given the event an even tone and pace.

It is not un­usual, even for short plays, to run through their clever set­ups be­fore they’ve run their brief length. That hap­pens sev­eral times dur­ing this in­stall­ment of the Quick­ies. Not all of the shift­ing fur­ni­ture be­tween plays is han­dled with equal ease and ef­fi­ciency, ei­ther. In the main, how­ever, the evening is brisk and amus­ing.

For many, the ob­vi­ous high­light of the evening will be “A Work Break Down­town,” by Jeff Z. Klein. The play is set atop the Lib­erty Build­ing in down­town Buf­falo. Here, for nearly 100 years, twin stat­ues of Lib­erty, one fac­ing east, the other fac­ing west, have sym­bol­ized the great­ness of our city. The im­age was in­stantly rec­og­niz­able to the au­di­ence, who be­gan to vo­cal­ize ap­proval even be­fore the lights had come up after in­ter­mis­sion.

Klein brings th­ese stat­ues to life as they dis­cuss the cur­rent Buf­falo Re­nais­sance. The catch? One statue is white and faces down­town, the wa­ter­front, and Canada. The other is African Amer­i­can and faces the East Side.

Tillery plays “East Fac­ing Woman,” and Har­mon plays “West Fac­ing Woman.” Stephanie Riso di­rects.

Jen­nifer Tromble’s “The Ar­range­ment” of­fers us Noel Coward’s “Pri­vate Lives” as seen through the eyes of Sam Shep­ard. Two cou­ples get to­gether for break­fast. We soon re­al­ize that an ex-hus­band is meet­ing his ex-wife’s new boyfriend for the first time.

Mark C. Lloyd’s play, “Over the Tears,” is a com­edy on the sur­face, but with a pow­er­fully emo­tional un­der­tone. A man in a café is sit­ting alone, when the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of “Love” stops by his ta­ble. It is the evening’s most soul­ful play.

The ti­tle of Justin Karcher’s, “Who’s Afraid of Don­ald Trump?” might echo Ed­ward Albee, but the con­tent re­minds us of John Pa­trick Shan­ley’s “Psy­chopathia Sex­u­alis,” about a man who uses his fa­ther’s socks to work through his per­sonal prob­lems. Karcher’s in­no­va­tion is that Daddy’s sock be­comes a sock pup­pet that speaks with the dead man’s dis­ap­prov­ing Buf­falo Quick­ies by Al­ley­way The­atre

voice. Zuc­cari and Bax play the Ge­orge and Martha – I mean, Mike and Liz – in this playful tale about the voice of author­ity.

Marchant’s “Start­ing Out Strong” de­picts strangers who meet on a park bench. Barry, played by Starzyn­ski, comes on to Matilda, played by Tillery, rather too strongly. It’s a quick piece, which ends the first half with a smile.

Bella Poyn­ton’s “Eleven Things That Al­most Hap­pened to Rick and Han­nah … and One Thing That Ac­tu­ally Did” takes a man and a woman through a fast suc­ces­sion of in­ter­ac­tions in which she is striv­ing for or­der and sta­bil­ity, and he is a loose cannon. Each time the lights come up, she finds she is in a new set­ting. He’s lost his phone, for the fifth, sixth, or sev­enth time. They’re in a cof­fee shop. They’re on a trail. This is dra­mat­i­cally, the most so­phis­ti­cated of the evening’s plays. Bax and Brozyna play the roles un­der the di­rec­tion of Stil­son.

The fi­nal play of the evening, “The Cred­i­ble Ad­ven­tures of Py­lon and Thun­derthighs” by j. Sn­od­grass, is a playful sketch about two mis­fits who meet through Craigslist and em­bark on a life as art thieves, dressed as su­per­heroes. Directed by Weiser, it ends the evening with a chuckle.

Cos­tumes and wigs by James Ci­chocki are ex­cel­lent.

Al­ley­way The­atre

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