Sophomore Jackson Margolis and his brother, eighth-grader Dylan, regularly review plays presented by the B Street Theatre (2711 B St.). On opening night, Nov. 12, they saw “A Moving Day,” a holiday show written by Buck Busfield and Dave Pierini.
B Street has done an original holiday show for the past 23 years, but according to a document from the press information kit, founder, director and writer of the show Buck Busfield thinks that “A Moving Day”is also a great play for B Street’s 200th production.
This play is also symbolic because it is the last production that will be staged at B Street’s current location, before the theater company moves to Capitol Avenue and re-identifies itself as “The Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts.”
“I can’t think of a better way to close our current location,” Busfield said.
However, Dylan and I disagree.
The play tells the story of Patrick Ignatius (Greg Alexander) returning to his house in Cleveland to find a missing necklace that is more than just expensive.
However, because he does not live there anymore and has stopped paying taxes on it, the house is being foreclosed. Thus the play opens with movers Frank (Kurt Johnson) and Casey (Tim Liu) emptying his house. Johnson, a B Street regular also appeared in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
After Patrick tells his life story and threatens the movers, Casey and Frank allow Patrick to stay one more night and agree to help him look for his necklace.
This comedy has a cast of only five, also featuring the curious character Mouse (Stephanie Altholz) and Frank’s wife Karen (Jamie Jones).
Even though it’s a comedy, “A Moving Day” contains literal and figurative ghosts and marriage struggles.
Though we had high hopes for the play, my brother and I didn’t find “A Moving Day” a great conclusion to the B Street legacy.
Jackson: I really liked the dialogue in the first five minutes or so.
Dylan: Me too.
J: But after that . . .
D: It just went downhill.
J: That’s fair.
D: I mean, it was disjointed. (Playwrights Busfield and Pierini) tried to add themes like paranormal activity that didn’t mesh with the rest of the show.
J: Yeah, I went in thinking that it was going to be more fluid.
D: Nothing happened, nothing happened, nothing happened, and with only 15 minutes left, an attempt at a plot was introduced, and then it was over.
J: It started as a modern comedy involving Casey being “ghosted” by girls in the middle of his dates. Then it became a drama once Casey’s moving buddy Frank talks about his marriage struggles. And then, out of nowhere, it became a mafia mystery. So it was pretty choppy.
D: Yeah, it went in random directions that I wasn’t expecting, but not in a good way.
J: You’re right. The climax seemed to suddenly come out of left field.
D: At least the acting was consistent.
J: Most of it was, except for (Jones), who entered midway through the play and dropped her accent. Overall, I thought she did a good job with the character; however, her change in dialect was definitely noticeable.
D: Yeah, a little bit.
J: I couldn’t even tell what accent she was trying to pull off. What did you think it was?
D: I’m not sure, but the accent is somewhat irrelevant. One of the biggest problems was the character Patrick Ignatius.
J: Even though (Alexander) is talented, he was struggling to make his character more comedic than might have been intended by the playwrights. This leads to confusion when the play shifted to a life-threatening scene.
D: I think that problem had more to do with the character being undeveloped and choppy rather than the actor breaking character.
J: Good point.
J: The other thing is that because this play was only an hour and 15 minutes long, there wasn’t enough time to develop the characters. I didn’t really feel sympathetic for any of them. When Casey said that girls had consistently abandoned him without saying anything during the middle of their dates (ghosting) or Frank said that he might get a divorce, I didn’t know these characters enough to feel for them. And to be honest, Casey’s character was a little bit annoying.
D: Don’t put that part about Casey being annoying in your article.
D: So who was your favorite actor then?
J: Definitely Kurt Johnson (Frank).
D: I agree.
J: Of all of the characters, he was the most human.
D: I still don’t really care about his character at all though.
J: Whoa there!
D: I don’t. I liked him more as George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
J: Me too. He’s clearly a versatile actor, though, because he played a completely different character in this show.
D: I think that because the dialogue was more in-depth in the last show we saw, he had less of an opportunity to develop his character here.
J: The dialogue in general was another issue. It was choppy and even repetitive at times. For instance, sometimes one character would say a word and then another character would say the same word. And they would just go on saying it four or five times. Some people laughed, but I was just confused.
D: What I’m really unsure of is how it was a holiday play besides the fact that it took place on Christmas Eve.
J: It wasn’t. If you’re looking for a holiday play like “A Christmas Carol” and you like feeling warm at the end of a holiday show, don’t go to this one.
D: Yeah, I like “A Christmas Carol” a lot.
J: So, out of four stars, how many would you give it?
D: Well, I really wasn’t attached to the characters, the plot wasn’t cohesive, and the end made me want to say, “Wait, slow down!”
J: Yeah, the show definitely didn’t come full circle.
Kristin Margolis(mother): Because of the acting or because of the play?
J: Shh, the sound gets messed up when more than two people talk. But definitely the play.
D: Yeah, the play.
J: I mean, most of the acting was solid, but the dialogue and the plot just weren’t.
D: We didn’t understand what the plot was leading up to until –
J: Probably half an hour after the play had ended. The dialogue really didn’t make the story clear.
D: So how many stars would you give it?
J: I’m not as hard of a critic this time. I’m going to give it two-and-a-half because –
D: Wow, big difference.
J: OK, OK. An hour and 15 minutes just isn’t long enough for a four-star play, so with the time they had, they did a pretty good job. Though the play had some sudden dark points, most of it was light and comedic. Which, in my opinion, isn’t the type of play that makes a good holiday show.
D: I agree. I don’t recommend it for kids my age because this show really isn’t written for my generation.
J: I don’t recommend it for high schoolers either. It really wasn’t all that funny, and because it is categorized as a “comedy,” it didn’t do its job. There were people who were laughing out loud, but I was not one of them. Maybe grandparents or parents of millennials might like the show since it pokes fun at that generation.
D: I still don’t recommend it though. It doesn’t represent B Street as its 200th (and last) show at the current location.
J: How disappointing! They’re walking out with this show as their final curtain call.
Busfield plans to continue the tradition of original holiday shows at the new location, (2700 Capitol Ave). “A Moving Day” runs from Nov. 11-Dec. 24, Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets are $27-$39.