Moon over Buffalo

Apr 11 2018 | By More

★★★☆☆   Comic capers

St Ninian’s Hall, Tue 10 – Sat 14 April 2018
Review by Thom Dibdin

A strong sense of purpose and plenty of pace ensure that Edinburgh Theatre Arts’ production of Moon Over Buffalo at St Ninian’s Church Hall is farcical for all the right reasons.

Ken Ludwig’s comedy is set in 1953, in Buffalo, New York, where George and Charlotte Hay’s once-successful theatre company is touring its rep productions of Private Lives and Cyrano de Bergerac.

Ryan Faulds, Edith Peers, Georgie Purvis, Mags McPherson and Derek Marshall. Pic: John McLinden

Part celebration of the power of live theatre, Ludwig’s main concern is creating a backstage farce. There are plenty of entries and exits as he cooks up preposterous situations for the Hay’s, her hard-of-hearing mother Ethel and their daughter Roz.

However, when you add Roz’s ex fiance Paul and her current fiance, TV weatherman Howard – not to forget George’s one-night-stand, company member Eileen, and Richard the lawyer who is courting Charlotte – and it could be taken for a domestic sit-com for the television of the kind which was destroying the public’s appetite for the Hay’s theatrical offerings.

Ludwig’s point presumably being that such comedy can just as well be presented on the stage as on the small screen – although it was in 1995 that he made it and the nature of the small screen beast has transformed as much in the last two decades as it did in the four decades before that.

However, it is phenomenally difficult to do well, live. Director Colin McPherson gets the basics right, presenting it with really serious intent, rather than knowingly setting up the laughs. It’s an attitude which serves the humour of the piece very well.

utterly splendid

There’s great pace here, too, although the delivery could sometimes be a bit lighter and more fluid. As, indeed, could those many, many entries and exits. And when it comes to the American accents, there isn’t quite the consistency that you would hope for.

Danny Farrimond and Edith Peers. Pic: John McLinden

Danny Farrimond as George and Edith Peers as Charlotte give a solid representation of an old couple who fit each other like gloves but are on the brink of splitting up due to his infidelity.

Peers is utterly splendid when called upon to flair her nostrils and heap scorn upon her grovelling man. She’s a force of fury around the stage, particularly with the arrival of the big plot-driving event – notice that movie director Frank Capra is going to visit the Private Lives matinee with a view to casting his latest iteration of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Farrimond knows how to be dominating too, although he isn’t quite as imperious or unconsciously arrogant as the role of an actor manager demands. He makes a more than decent fist of the physical comedy aspects of the role when he’s driven to drink, but is not hugely convincing as an actual drunk.

It is in Roz that the greatest revelation comes. Georgie Purvis shines in the role of the daughter, having left the company and now returning to introduce her new fiancé to her parents. Purvis is constantly alert to what is going on around her – always reacting but also directing attention away from herself onto the action.

impressively lantern-jawed

Purvis plays her two foils excellently. David McCallum as the new fiancé, boring weatherman Howard, spends most of his time on stage being pushed off it – to most entertaining effect. Ryan Faulds is impressively lantern-jawed as ex-fiancé Paul, now the company manger, George’s right hand man and still carrying a torch for Roz.

Ryan Faulds, Georgie Purvis , Edith Peers, David MCCallum and Mags McPherson. Pic John McLinden

Purvis and Faulds have a ball in the Act III play-within-a-play version of Private Lives. Their impressions of American versions of English upper-class accent are utterly hilarious – while the backstage staff deserve their own round of applause for their quick-change scene change.

There is strong support elsewhere. Mags McPherson is completely convincing as Ethel, the deaf mother who is seamstress for the company and hears maybe more than she is letting on. Nikki Furnivall doesn’t have a huge amount to do as the preyed-upon Eileen, but convinces when needed, as does Derek Marshall as lawyer Richard.

If there is quite a lot which could be added to this production, Colin McPherson ensures that there is nothing missing when it comes to getting the laughs.

Running time two hours (including one interval)
St Ninian’s Hall, 40 Comely Bank, EH4 1AG
Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 April 2018
Evenings: 7.30pm; Sat Mat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details:

Edinburgh Theatre Arts website:
Facebook: @edinburghtheatrearts.
Twitter: @EdinTheatArts.


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