Reviewed by S. Alexander Smith:
Buffalo’s Brazen Faced Varlets, in conjunction with the Subversive Theater Collective, is putting on an unusual rollicking holiday offering with “RADIO TBS” (Trailer Park Broadcasting Scandals).
The story revolves around the intimate life and scandals of a small, rural neighborhood, seen exclusively through the eyes of the female residents of a Florida trailer park. Anchoring the narrative is a radio broadcast covering salacious gossip in this bedroom community, beauty and grooming tips, religious fervor, artistic expression and Elvis devotion. Hilarious, over the top but surprisingly touching portraits of friends and family abound.
In an area of this size every member is vital, for good or ill, in producing events like the drive by Nativity, policing the ‘proper’ appearance of fellow denizens and the potential deportment of those that don’t…measure up. As well, there is the promoting of the beauty & charm classes needed to select a new Miss Manatee, of which, the restriction on pregnancy dropped the field of candidates to one this particular year.
Into this closed closet of a community comes the salacious wile of a belly-dancing teacher, a woman of free spirit who is staunchly opposed by the self-elected morality maven. Conflict, and hilarity, ensues as this ‘Godly’ woman becomes determined to drive this threat, and her heathen ways out, of the park. Events come to a head when the petition drive to oust the belly dancer butts up against the necessity of having a full cast (they are short a shepherd) for the locally famed drive-by nativity: Jesus and Elvis, a Tribute to the Kings.
The Varlets excel particularly at ensemble comedy and continue to do so with this production. The exceptionally talented cast, including Brittany Kucala, Jenny Gembka, Jane Cudmore, Diane DiBernardo, Amelia Scinta, Diane McNamara, Kerry Alsheimer, and Kate Olena, shine like the North Star!
The cast is rounded out especially well with Lara D. Haberberger as the morality maven and Theresa DiMuro-Wilber as the belly-dance teacher; two powerhouse performers clashing in the titanic struggle for public and perceived personal decency. Irreverent, madcap, but ultimately embracing of the dynamics of a small hovel of colorful characters that take the absurd as a daily given, ‘Radio TBS’ brings a much-appreciated smile to the holidays.
In the words of the King, Elvis, that is: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Directed by Kelly M. Beuth. RADIO TBS runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm through December 15th at Subversive Theatre’s regular performance venue The Manny Fried Playhouse at 255 Great Arrow. There will also be one Actors’ Benefit performance on Monday, December 10th at 8pm.
More information and tickets at 716-408-0499.
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