by Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff
Some works created for the theater are meant to evoke deep and personal feelings, ranging from sadness, to longing, to passion. Others may be meant to foster some sort of awe or spectacle in the viewer’s mind. And others, well, are meant to evoke gut-busting laughter. The Providence College Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film’s current production of Ken Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo, without question, falls firmly into the last of those categories.
Based on the 1995 comic work created by playwright Ludwig, PC’s production of Moon Over Buffalo, directed by Brett Epstein, is certainly a comedic force. Based in 1953 in Buffalo, New York, the story follows aging performers George and Charlotte Hay as they put on shows at their local repertory theater, The Erlanger. Played by Thomas Edwards ’20 and Julia DiBari ’19, the story highlights this duo’s dysfunctional relationship and their acting careers. Besides this married couple, the rest of the cast is comprised of their daughter Rosalind/Roz (Aisling Sheahan ’19), Roz’s fiancé Howard (Ryan Worrell ’22), elderly mother Ethel (Caprial Harris ’19), stagehand Paul (Steven Sawan ’20), actress Eileen (Halle Pratt ’22), and wealthy lawyer Richard (William Oser ’19). All together, this cast of characters interacts in ways that would make even the most humorless audience member chuckle.
Much of the play develops through different varieties of chaos, as the characters experience confusion, mistaken identities, drunkenness, betrayal, and much more. It is a wonderful blend of setups, punchlines, running gags, and situational comedy that all comes together to form one smart, wacky plot. The cast pulls this off seamlessly, shifting from drunken monologues to physical gags and more with ease.
While much of Moon Over Buffalo is meant to make the audience cackle in their seats, there is another aspect to the plot that adds a somewhat introspective layer to the production as a whole. Not only does the show follow the antics of a theatre troupe, but the staging also presents these characters in the green room of their very theater. These choices, along with many dialogues and jokes on the topic of acting and life in the theater, create a meta layer to Moon Over Buffalo. Much of the issues that drive the characters’ motivations stem from their life in theater, as they either want to break free from it or hold on to it with all they have.
This reflective facet of the production works in tandem with the sharp comedic motif that drives it, as the viewer is able to crack up one minute and think about the subtle implications of some of the jokes the next. Neither outshines the other; instead, each of these driving aspects works in unison through the superb acting of the student performers and creates a production that is bright and entertaining. The cast will be putting on three more performances of the show at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13 as well as Sunday, April 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale online and at the Smith Center ticket office for anyone interested in a humor-filled spectacle.