Moon Over Buffalo shows George Hay who is an actor and tours small theaters with his plays like Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives.
George acts with his wife Charlotte Hay, who wants to have a career in movies. Rosalind, the daughter of George and Charlotte also acted alongside her parents and dated the manager, Paul. However, she leaves for a ‘normal life’ where she meets a weatherman presenter on television, Howard. Eileen replaced Roz. George and Eileen had an affair, an act that brought confusion to the play. Other characters, who influence the play, are Ethel, a near-deaf mother-in-law to George and Richard, the family lawyer, who has admired Charlotte for long. Moon Over Buffalo uses a situation comedy approach accompanied with humor, slapstick elements, and sexual allusion. George, the actor must achieve some physical vigor in the play as he takes on a mock fencing match alongside Charlotte.
High-levels of physical performances are also in a wrestling match between George and Howard, and the act of falling into the orchestra fit. The actors use fast-paced conversation and actions because of endless backbiting and hysterical efforts to end confusion among themselves. The idea that the most important director, Frank Capra is coming to watch a play by George and Charlotte changes everything. These actors cannot believe their luck because this is what they crave for and deserve. However, these actors do not accept their difficult financial conditions.
This element contributes to constant bickering in the play. The two plays within the play (Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives) reveal how Charlotte and George discuss issues about film and theater. They tension and discussions about illicit affair, alcohol consumption, and mistaken identities, wearing wrong dresses, and a fall in the pit all draw the audience’s attention. However, in this chaotic play, issues shall finally fall into the right place.
Robbie Shafer captures the audience’s attention by portraying Charlotte Hay as a jealous wife who wants to elope with Richard over her husband’s affair with Eileen. John Miller acts as George Hay who is Charlotte Hay’s husband.
Miller grabs viewers’ attention in his drunken stupor and acts, the wrong costume, the wrong drama, later arrival and the pit accident. Phil Parker plays the role of Howard, Roz’s nerdy fiance. Howard sets a major confusion in the drama when Charlotte’s mother with a hearing problem introduces him as the famous director, Frank Capra. This makes Charlotte to treat Howard highly. When George Hay returns, he thinks that Howard is a brother to Eileen who wants a revenge for the pregnancy. Amid this confusion, George ties Howard and locks him in a closet as a way of defending himself. Kim Parker plays Rosalind (Roz) who is the Hay’s daughter.
She grabs viewers’ attention when she decides to the theater for a ‘normal life’, which is away from her parents’ arguments. Laura Price acts as Eileen. She changes Georges’ life after the illicit affair in which she conceives. However, towards the end of the play Eileen changes the whole saga as Howard announces his meeting with an old love. This makes Roz to be single. Philip Parker acts as Paul, stage manager of the actors.
He turns out to be the true love of Roz. Ann Sowby plays the role of Ethel, Charlotte’s hard-of-hearing mother who heightens confusion in the play by using malapropism of every word. Ron Roberts acts as the lovesick Richard who wants to rescue Charlotte from her unfaithful husband.
There are instances of blocking in the play. The director manages to create blocking by developing movements that depict natural behaviors of characters. However, the monologue interrupts blocking in this play. The director achieves direction by making actors available at certain points at appropriate moments.
For instance, we have George who falls in a pit and ends at the hospital. Howard’s visit is a storage direction because he must be there to heighten confusion in the play. Meanwhile, George reacts natural in self-defense by tying Howard. The director has managed to be active and inventive in order to enhance direction and encourage actors to enhance blocking by their creativity.
Actors have managed to manipulate physical movements, bickering, and sexual allusion to enhance blocking. The mistake identities of various characters and malapropism also contribute to blocking in the play.
The play has all the right scenic elements to make it a farce.
There are many doors in the play as a part of the setting. We notice how multiple doors control movements of characters and enable actors to miss one another. The use of doors is a common scenic element in many plays. There are also elevators that have raised the setting of the scene and created low sections of the stage. The play also has a fly gallery backstage in which various elements hang to form a living room. There are also units in the play to hold doors, which lead to various areas of the house. The living room provides a scene of a family house with many units to accommodate precise movements that fit a physical play.
The lighting design of Moon Over Buffalo aimed to serve two purposes.
These included illuminating the stage and actors and creating a favorable mood and controlling the focus of the audience. Moon Over Buffalo does use indirect sources of light with general illumination to create a scenic element of a living room. The lighting design presents intensity, direction on the stage, color, and movements.
The first three elements transform to reflect outside setting on a balcony during the night in which lighting focuses on the actors. The play relies on these features to acquire elements of visibility, composition of color, dark shadow, and overall arrangement of light, mood, and the revelation of the lighting. Moon Over Buffalo lighting designing enables viewers to see actors at all times and make them appear as three-dimensional. The play has proper angling of scenic materials, proper frontal, back, and side lighting accompanied with an appropriate balance of colors. The basic type of lighting in this play creates a lighting system of a room and house in general. These sources of lights are before, at sides of and over the stage. The lighting’s focus simulate the apparent sources with back and side lighting in order to make actors appear as three-dimensional objects.
All actors have various costumes in the play.
However, in a farce play like this, costume creates confusion. We look at whatever all the actors wear during performances. We also look at clothing and accessories together with wigs and makeup of these actors. George wears a wrong costume and engages Charlotte in a lively conversation about their lives. We have to notice that the costumes of this play are historic and recreated to reflect the 19th century costumes. Costumes used in the play aimed at portraying the real time in history.
In general, costumes also reflect professional lives of the actors. For instance, George and Charlotte appear dressed as actors while others appear in suits in order to reflect their profession. We also focus on various elements of costumes such as color, cut, fabric, and weight of George and Charlotte’s costumes. They aim to simulate physical nature of the play and reflect the professional lives of struggling actors especially George in his drunken stupor. These actors have formalized their costumes to reflect their everyday lives. This is why choices of cut, color, fabric, and design all reflect the nature of this drama.
The sound production of Moon Over Buffalo was subtle and effective.
The sound production had to meet qualities of a physical drama. The notable elements of sound effects in Moon Over Buffalo included the ringing telephone, which is a call from Frank Capra and shattering glass. The producer timed perfectly timed these elements of sounds. The constant shouting and bickering of actors made the sound designer kept the microphone at a good level to minimize effects of shouting. This created a seamless sound effect and musical segues, which enhanced ambiance of the play. As a result, sound did not distract viewers. The sound of a ringing telephone and shattering glass aimed to create realistic effects. These elements of sound developed the mood of the play when George and Charlotte realized that it was their opportunity to stardom.
The glass shattering gives viewers the illusion of realities of life.
The actors have a lot of experience for a physical drama. The director matched the speed of a physical through quick timing especially in a show with multiple doors where actors have to run in and out with energy and engage in constant talks. It portrays a traditional farce in which ambition amidst failure runs deep, mistaken identities, drunkenness and onstage disaster of the actors take control. However, the play leaves viewers to wonder whether George and Charlotte have any true feelings of love between them.
George only shows that Charlotte bemuses him while Charlotte puts artificial feelings towards George. This makes the audience not to feel any emotions for the actors. Therefore, their reconciliation, which comes easily to them, does not satisfy the audience’s curiosity. Apart from the hilarious moments of the play, the play makes theater life look almost outdated. George and Charlotte depict that theater life is a dying form of art. As a result, actors only dream of a life and success in the movies.
In general, the comedy makes the audience laugh. However, it seems most of the Act I elements are just rehearsal because it is in Act II where actions begin to develop as actors adopt physical elements of the play. It is in Act II where we see elements of confusion in the play, Private Lives. This depicts confusion through wrong lines and costumes.
The play also achieves its comic effect through acting, blocking, and design element.