BUZZER Review

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Jackson (Cincinnati native Eric Lynch) listens to the escalating tensions of his friend and girlfriend. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

BUZZER presented by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park through April 19. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.

Truth is an ongoing theme in BUZZER, Playhouse’s penultimate offering of the Shelterhouse season. Don, a recovering addict, is working through a 12-step program and tying to make amends. Taken in by his childhood friend, Jackson and Jackson’s girlfriend Suzy, the truths of their shared history come out, for better or worse, over the course of the play.

I really enjoyed the script by Tracey Scott Wilson. I found the characters to be believable and mostly-likeable. Their motivations are clearly defined and the way these unfold, as the layers peel away, is very engaging. There are some nice moments of humor spread throughout and a great intensity several scenes late in act two.

Jackson (Eric Lynch, center) tries to set ground rules with Don (Alec Shaw) and Suzy (Carly Zien) . Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Jackson (Eric Lynch, center) tries to set ground rules with Don (Alec Shaw) and Suzy (Carly Zien) . Photo by Sandy Underwood.

The three member cast is excellent. Eric Lynch’s Jackson has a rightfully-earned chip on his shoulder and a strong sense of compassion for those people important to him. Suzy, portrayed by Carly Zien, has a good heart but struggles with being honest about her vulnerability. Alec Shaw does an impressive job of bringing a likability and earnestness to recovering addict Don.

The three actors shine under the direction of Timothy Douglas. The character’s interactions are natural and ring true. Douglas finds a great emotional balance in the tone, where others could easily have over-emphasized the conflict.

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Suzy (Carly Zien) and Don (Alec Shaw) discuss differing perceptions of their shared history. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Sound designer Matthew M. Nielson impresses with the sounds of the neighborhood intruding into the apartment. The outside confrontation worked extremely well, with the audience being able to recognize voices and intent, without being able to make out the entire conversation.

I thought the final short scene at the end of the play serves more as an epilogue, than the actual ending of the play. I found the last two scenes prior to this to be extremely well-done and intensely engrossing in different ways. A physical confrontation versus an emotional one. The damage done in the latter, with one character refusing to speak a truth that the other two characters obviously know, and which one begs to hear, leads to an ending that some audience members would see as less than satisfying.

Jackson (Eric Lynch) and his girlfriend Suzy (Carly Zien) share an affectionate moment. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Jackson (Eric Lynch) and his girlfriend Suzy (Carly Zien) share an affectionate moment. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

Understandable in a way, but people don’t always make the right decisions, and the consequences of that can have a less than ideal outcome. For me, that lack of satisfaction shows that the production successfully pulled me in and and had me vested in the characters and the outcome.

A great production of an engrossing character-driven drama.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.

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