Review: Moon Over Buffalo
Updated: Sep 23, 2021
Moon Over Buffalo, by Ken Ludwig (1995)
For Blackfriars Theatre book club...
This week we read Moon Over Buffalo - a play set in nearby Buffalo, NY in 1953, at the Erlanger Theatre (which was a real place, but was demolished in 2007). The action follows husband-and-wife team George & Charlotte Hay, fading stars of stage and screen, as they bumble their way through a situational comedy along with: their daughter Roz, her fiancee Howard and former lover Paul, George's one-time fling Elaine, Charlotte's love interest Richard, and Charlotte's hearing impaired mother, Ethel. It's a farce and a bit slapstick, and was thoroughly enjoyable. There are mistaken identities, drunks stumbling around (a bottle of bourbon poured into the coffee pot!) and love triangles. And basically everything that can go wrong does go wrong, ending with a performance on stage where half the actors think they're performing Private Lives, and the other half think they're putting on Cyrano. Hilarity ensues! (Not being sarcastic - it actually is very funny.)
It was a nice break from the heavier stuff I often read, and also a nice break from just, ya know, the world right now.
My favorite character was actually Ethel, the near-Deaf mother/mother-in-law, who gets treated poorly by her son-in-law (saying mean things about her because he thinks she can't hear... which often she can't, but sometimes she has her hearing aids in!)... but she always manages to have some biting comment or observation that gets right to the quick of things, even when it seems like she has no idea what's going on. The play definitely feels dated in some moments - one of them being the way they treat Ethel. (Nothing drives me more crazy than being out at a store or somewhere where there is a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, and the clerk [or whoever] starts yelling at them... guess what, if they're Deaf, they still can't hear you!)... But of course I also wonder if my sensitivity to the way they treat her comes from my own personal background with deafness. (I’d like to THINK that Rochesterians are/would be more mindful of these issues, since we have such a large Deaf/HH population, but I don't know how true that is.)
Anyway, overall it was a fun, short read, and the discussion last night was fun too! About 15 people in total, including a few Blackfriars employees, a lot of folks I didn't know, and a few I did (shout out to Sarah and Karen!). I definitely plan on continuing with this “book” club.
If you're interested in joining, you can learn more here.
UP NEXT: Pax, by Sarah Pennypacker