Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Buffalo Gals"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Larry Stark


"Buffalo Gals"

Adapted from the short story by Ursula K. Leguin
Playwright Robert Macadaeg
Directed by Kara Lynn Vaeni

Scenic and Costume Design by Chris Rigney
Lighting Design by Greg Reif

Coyote........................................................Tina Farrell
Gal...................................................Megan McNamara
Prairie Dog/Horse.......................................Nick Jaeger
Jay/Male Coyote.......................................Michael Cast
Owl/Chickadee.....................................Alexis Glickman
Doe/ Horned Toad/ Grandmother Spider.....Maya Parra

Little Miss Bliss and the Buffalo Boys
Flute/Percussion/Voice........................Jennifer Bliss
Electronics/Bass/Percussion/Voice...Plamen Jetchev
Guitar/Percussion/Voice.........................Paul Erlich
Percussion/Voice...............................Brett Barbaro


Except for Megan McNamara --- playing the child survivor of a plane crash somewhere in the Southwest --- everyone else in The Other Theatre's "Buffalo Gals" plays animals, each one with a characteristic stance, dance, voice and movement-pattern, who try to teach her how to grow up. But when she asks "Why do you wear clothes ... like people?" and gets the haughty reply "But we Are people!" it's clear that this is not a cute children's tale but an introduction to a whole new mythos.

The Other Theatre has committed themselves to taking all the time it takes to get things right, and so it's natural for them to begin the tale with fifteen-minutes of energetic drumming by eight musicians and cast members that separates our world from that of myth. The stage is bare, with an alcove that is Coyote's bedroom, and audience surrounds it on two sides. The focus is on the movements and tales of these animal/Indians who are always ambiguous. Coyote (Tina Farrell) says she brought the whole world into being, but Coyote is a trickster and she lies a lot. Chickadee (Alexis Glickman) says Grandmother Spider (Maya Parra) weaves everything together, but we only see one side of the whole fabric. And even though the girl learns to dance --- enthusiastically, if a bit clumsily --- Coyote's dance, she cannot stay in this half-world and must, eventually, go to be with her kind.

The movement- and gesture-patterns are so precise that when Michael Cast comes back onstage as Coyote's mate there is nothing of Blue Jay about him, and Prairie Dog is nothing at all like Horse, though they are both Nick Jaeger --- and while all four actors stand like a totempole to add arms to Maya Parra's Grandmother Spider there is nothing of her previous incarnations as Doe and Horned Toad in this final personation.

This excursion into an alternate world, including the mesmerizing drumming, takes only an hour and forty-five minutes. Along the way there are strangenesses --- Jay makes the Gal a new eye out of pine-pitch and ritual; Coyote consults her excrement turds as oracles --- and both an implied and a direct criticism of the world The Other People have brought to this country. The Gal, of course, must go off with her own kind. It might be nice, though, if she --- and the audience --- could dwell with Coyote in this animal/Indian world, where people cannot always tell a story from the truth, ever after.

Love,
===Anon.


"Buffalo Gals" (till 28 March)
THE OTHER THEATRE
Beau Jest Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON
1(617)254-2292

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