"Bus Stop" is Old Country Buffet
Reviewed by Michael Monteiro
Like the spread one finds at any of the infamous buffet spreads, Raven Theatre's production of William Inge's "Bus Stop" leaves a heavy lump in your stomach in the first helping. Inge's successful romantic comedy, tugs at the all Americana heart string. The play carries a nostalgia about it that is hard to dilute. The place is set for us well. A bus stop diner, in rural Kansas, in the midst of a great snow storm.. The play unfolds in one evening where stranded travelers sip their coffee, eat some eggs and fall in love. Despite being a problematic play, it has an ability to warm the heart as easily as apple pie.
The play asks it's audience to ignore some basic unrealistic factors. Confusions as to why that certain character would say that just a few feat away from the other. Or even why there are only four passengers on that bus?
The difficulty in directing this piece is figuring out what character learns what through the course of this play. Private secrets are divulged in front of the entire ensemble, and no clues are given as to who knows what. Actors become frozen in tedious actions and benefit nothing to the arch of the play. As presented, it seems little was done to make the character's standing idle more than furniture for far too long of moments.
The strongest performances in the evening came from those who embraced the caricatural values of the play. We have the dance hall girl with a heart of gold, the bombastic cowboy, the brassy, greasy spoon waitress, etc. What would have made what is a somewhat dusty play better would have been a cast able to color in Inge's rough sketched coloring book. This is an ensemble's story first and for most, and indecision was it's downfall.
"Bus Stop" performs till Dec 11th at Raven Theatre, 6157 N Clark; Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are available at 773 338 2177