Arts Club Theatre
MOON OVER BUFFALO
March 11 - April 4
by Roxanne Davies
When I tried to recall some of the more memorable lines from Moon Over Buffalo, the latest offering at The Stanley, I had a hard time coming up with more than a few comic lines. Strange, I thought, since I definitely recall laughing heartily throughout the play. It only lead me to realize that it was not exactly the script that was so hilarious as the antics of the clever and talented cast assembled to stage the Broadway farce, written by playwright and lawyer, Ken Ludwig.
The play takes place backstage at a theatre in Buffalo, New York , a place so boring, according to one of the actors, the only thing it has going for it is that it's named after an animal. George and Charlotte Hay, married thespians who almost put the Barrymores to shame, are performing the romantic leads in a touring repertory of two plays, Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives. A slight indiscretion a la Bill Clinton by George, causes a marital spat. Meanwhile, a phone call from film director Frank Capra, who is trying to replace an ailing Ronald Coleman, promises a last chance at true stardom for the aging thespians.
The action is fast paced and the set has doors slamming at an increasing velocity as daughter Rosalind, with Howard, her weatherman fiance, in tow, chase after dad. Hilarity reigns when the sophisticated Charlotte mistakes Howard for Frank Capra. The scene where George "coming out of the closet" was very funny.
George and Charlotte are played by real life couple, Lorne Kennedy and Goldie Semple. It was a treat to see these two talented actors pull out all the stops in their hilarious performance, with a sense of comic timing and energetic buffoonery. Semple is blessed with a refined mannerism, a beautiful sensuous voice, and terrific legs. Vancouver theatre goers recently saw Kennedy in the finely staged comedy, Two, with Nicola Cavendish. He doesn't fail to deliver a flawless portrayal of the dipsomaniac George who pines over his lost love and the opportunity to make it big in Hollywood.
Doris Chillcott, who received a Jessie last year for Happy Days, plays the hard-of-hearing granny who constantly chides her hapless son-in-law for his wayward life. Like the ever-present chorus in Greek drama, Doris pipes in with just the right word to describe the mad antics of the characters.
Design team including Ted Roberts doing the set and Marsha Sibthorpe, lighting, have fun with a revolving circular stage which makes the best of the na Stanley stage. Anyone with asthma may have trouble sitting in the front rows when the smoke comes wafting from the set of Cyrano.
Allan Zinyk (star of The Number 14 and a regular on Millenium), an actor with underscored charm, plays the role of Paul, Rosalind's former boyfriend.. The jilted pregnant girlfriend, Eileen, played by Nicole Le Vasseur, gets quite a few laughs despite her precarious position. I felt a little sorry for Craig Davidson, Charlotte's wealthy beau who seems to stand about a lot. Director John Cooper lets chaos reign and the volume to rise appreciably during the action. He allows his actors to demonstrate their strengths and Kennedy goes full throttle, from bellowing to thrashing about, from start to finish.
But like all happy comedies, this one has a very happy ending. As Ethel says, "This place is like living in an asylum on the guard's day off." That's what it feels like, and this reckless and insane comedy will have you leaving the beautiful Stanley in a buoyant mood afterwards.