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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 22 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 47
Blast from the past - Buckshot explores the choice between fighting childhood demons and letting them go
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Blast from the past - Buckshot explores the choice between fighting childhood demons and letting them go

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

BUCKSHOT
MACHA MONKEY PRODUCTIONS
(at Cornish Playhouse)
Through November 23
We are beginning to move into a post-sexual-orientation world in theater. Several new plays that have taken stage in the last couple of years have included Gay characters without their sexual orientation being at all remarkable in its inclusion. A case in point is the newest Macha Monkey play, Buckshot, which features two Lesbian couples whose sexuality is all but incidental to the story.

Local playwright Courtney Meaker's brand-new play focuses on an angry young woman, Alana (Katie Driscoll), who is trying hard to live an ordinary life doing regular things, like holding down a crappy job and trying to have a decent relationship. She has found Mel (Megan Ahiers), and finally, after two years, they are planning to move in together.

In a phone call from her brother, she learns her uncle Hal has suddenly returned to their childhood home, though he now suffers from Alzheimer's and doesn't remember anything about the past. This event throws her life into chaos.

We learn fairly quickly in this unfolding story that Alana doesn't talk about much, not even to Mel. She knows that her brother Saul (Daniel Wood) is coming to visit, but doesn't even want to tell Mel that. She practically promises Mel that she won't quit her job, and then does so with such violence (she throws a stapler at someone) that it's clear she can never go back. Then she tries to rope best friends Jax and Jalyn (Jordi Montes and Narea Kang) into concealing that fact from Mel so they can have a nice evening.

HAUNTING MEMORIES
That Alana has great friends, and a great woman to have a relationship with, speaks to a fundamentally appealing character. But she has deep flaws. Something terrible happened with Uncle Hal when she and her brother were children. It's something that neither he nor she has ever spoken about with anyone else. It has forever after changed her personality and she is stuck in bitterness.

The play demonstrates Alana's attempts to re-create, through flashback, moments of import in her past, including a failed attempt as a teenager to have a straight relationship. Randall Brammer plays the hapless young man, Booker, who tries to have a real romance with her and who ends up the brunt of her anger. Uncle Hal shows up, too, as a great guy whom the kids love, except for hunting expeditions that included mysterious extra games that should never have been played.

Alana and Saul try mightily to resolve and get past their childhood injuries, but can't let go of the pact they made back then to kill Uncle Hal if he ever shows up again after disappearing years before. Alana finds that until she has resolved this issue, she can't move forward with Mel, who has no real understanding of why their relationship is disintegrating.

Driscoll manages the difficult task of being charismatic enough to allow us to like her and yet show dangerous flashes of anger. Ahiers is engaging, long-suffering, and reasonable. Montes and Kang make a loving couple, though Jax shows an almost unreasonable loyalty to the angry Alana.

Wood creates a believable and supportive brother, and is also able to demonstrate his own pain as the older sibling who could not protect his little sister. Gianni Truzzi has the tricky role of Uncle Hal, who seems normal and unthreatening with just a hint of creepiness.

Director Peggy Gannon moves the action fluidly around a multi-location set (by Brandon Estrella) where actors sit in darkness at times, waiting for their scenes. Lighting is thus extremely important, and Tess Malone's design also moves fluidly, creating both indoor and outdoor scenes. And the sound of buckshot periodically blasts in sound designer Joseph Swartz's soundscape.

This is an enjoyable evening, even with a difficult topic, and Meaker's script does a great job of inserting regular life and doses of humor throughout Alana's struggle to find a way to manage her past. For more information, go to www.machamonkey.org or call (206) 860-2970.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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