If You Can Get to Buffalo - Theatre Review

A review by Suzanne Birrell

(l-r) Chase Cargill, Betsy Moore, Caitlin Teeley & Alex Wells

If You Can Get to Buffalo by Trish Harnetiaux is a fine morsel of eclectic humor. Fast moving and funny, witty and thought provoking, If You Can get to Buffalo takes us back to the beginnings of the internet. "You had to be there," explains the character Julian in the first moments. And if you weren't there when it all started, this production will bring you on board.  For the first time, I understand what a "chat room" is - users living in a world of anonymity where there are no rules. Through the magic of theatre and an over the top stage design, we are both on line and behind the keyboard, witness to surreal drama in cyberspace and the real life ramifications. And through it all, we get frequent hysterical commentary from TV personality Charlie Rose about this new and unfathomable "in-ter-net" in a scintillating performance by Melina Bielefelt.

Sarah Rosenberg & Tim Venable

The play shoots out of the box without any hesitation with Bart Petty playing the role of Julian, who documents the rape in cyberspace. He has a naturalness that is very infectious. He takes us to the "living room," a place that doesn't really exist on any dimension where we meet cyber characters. We are warned: nothing is real in this virtual landscape yet there will be real life consequences. One of the reason this play is so fun is because we encounter the virtual world of characters. In essence everyone is playing extreme versions of who they would rather be.

Sarah Rosenberg, Tim Venable & Alex Wells

The performances entertain on every level. Cindy Nguyen is dynamite as Starsinger, a wanna be singer who gets lured into a sordid situation and has difficulty separating self from cyber self. Chase Cargill is eccentrically delightful as Legba. Caitlin Teeley is charmingly nervous as a squirrel (It's the internet. You can be whatever you want to be). Tim Venable gives us the character of John who decides it's easier to be a woman in the cyber world because the guys come to him. He does all this with titillating over the shoulder coaching by his wife, played by Sarah Rosenberg, while Mr Bungle (Alex Wells) responds to John's cyber female in no hold barred physical fashion (Better leave the kids at home). Melina Bielefelt is beyond Charlie Rose, our baffled and bewildered guide through this new phenomenon of cyber space. By the end of the show she had the audience laughing with a mere look.

Bart Petty, Melina Bielefelt & Tim Venable

The Son of Semele Theatre is the perfect venue for this gem. You feel you are in the computer with the characters.  The creative team included SoSE artistic director Matthew McCray (video) and company member Barbara Kallir (lights and production management), with Meg Cunningham (set), Becca Kessin (sound) and Hunter Wells (costumes) and they put together a genius stage design and production.

 Cindy Nguyen & Alex Wells

If You Get To Buffalo is one of those plays that can be played by any combination of types, age and styles. It's virtual. It's abstract. Imagination can be unleashed. Director Edgar Landa at the helm of author Trish Harnetiaux's anecdote has piloted a wild ride. A fun show. Thought provoking. Spot on social commentary.  Don't miss this one.

If You Get To Buffalo is playing at the Son of Semele Theatre thru April 12, 2015.

More information; HERE
Fri/Sat @ 8PM
Sun @ 5PM
Mon 3/23 & 4/6 @ 7PM

Posted By Suzanne Birrell on March 17, 2015 11:48 am | Permalink