Posted by: Angy Wu Feng at 02/18/2014 11:00 AM

Tracey Scott Wilson’s Buzzer, staged by Jessica Thebus at Goodman Theater: Jackson (Eric Lynch), a successful African-American, moves back to the neighborhood where he grew up with his white girlfriend, Suzy (Lee Stark). They live in a large beautiful apartment with Jackson’s best friend Don (Shane Kenyon), a white man.

The main point of the play is to extend many themes from a little story, including love, friendship, tensions, race, and bad neighborhood. I like the second act more than the first act, because it is filled with tensions, and it motivates you to figure what will happen in the next second. However, there is a problem about the play. Because of too many themes in one play, it’s hard to make every theme to the point.

The most impressive scene is as argument in the second act. One day Jackson goes to work, leaving Suzy and Don at home. At that time, Suzy and Don have an inappropriate relationship and they try to hide it from Jackson. After that, Don has left the apartment out of guilty for two months. When he comes back, Jackson asks him why he leaves. In order to disguise the betrayal, Don explains that he is upset about Suzy gets harassed in the neighborhood. I appreciate the sound effect of the play, because it helps to make the stage a “bad neighborhood.”

After Jackson know the fact, he gets outraged and plans to return like for like. However, Don persuades him to have a dialogue with those harass Suzy and resolve it with peace. Finally, Don succeeds in persuading the men in neighborhood to stop harassing by talking only. It makes Jackson upset and angry because he thinks Don succeed in doing so just because he is a white man.

The tensions among these young people are rising frequently. The atmosphere is like water bubbling and fizzing. I like this scene because it is filled with tension, anger, fear, and tears all these emotions. In addition, it involves many themes, a betrayal from a lover and best friend, which indicates love and friendship, race prejudice, and bad neighborhood.

The lighting plays an important role in Buzzer. Because the furnishings are unchanged, it relies on the lighting to indicate the changes of places. For example, when Don is making a speech at Suzy’s class, the lights focus on Don only. Of course, the lighting designer (John Culbert) contributes to the play a lot. The acting of Kenyon’s Don is convincing. So is Lynch’s Jackson. Nevertheless, Stark’s Suzy overplays in the play somewhat. Generally, all characters work together to create an ensemble.

The play combines many elements in our everyday lives, consisting of love, friendship, tensions, race and bad neighborhood. Despite the argument between Don and Jackson, the play could have been more specific to each theme it is trying to reveal. The story is not as good as expected. The structure of story could have been strengthened by the playwright. 

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