Screen Plays' performance of "Vintage Hitchcock" got my afternoon off to a great start. A packed crowd filled the Dryden Theatre, eager to experience the old-timey goodness of a live radio play -- and the performers more than delivered. Utilizing vintage equipment from the AWA Wireless Museum, the production recreated an authentic 1940's radio show, complete with live sound effects and occasional commercial breaks, while The Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo set the mood with some period-appropriate jazz flavor.
The show presented two early works from Alfred Hitchcock: "The Lodger" and "Sabotage," both twisted stories of suspense that, in typical Hitchcock fashion, provided plenty of proof that the worst suspicions we have about our fellow man are probably correct. While "The Lodger" is the simpler (and slightly stronger) story, "Sabotage" starts as a slow burn, before building to an explosively tense climax. Great, spine-tingling fun.
With his "Solo Drum Solo" concert, Eastman School of Music alum Aaron Staebell explains that he wanted to break away from the type of music traditionally played on the drums, and in the process prove how versatile a simple drum set can be. The musician put a call out for new musical compositions specifically for the drums, and ended up receiving works from composers from around the world. As advertised, the show is "just drums," and admittedly, hearing the percussion isolated from its more melodic counterparts took some getting used to; at the halfway point of the hour-long concert, Staebell himself congratulated us for making it that far and still sticking around. I was thankful that "Heat Stroke," the awesome final piece of the set, mixed things up by incorporating an electronic backing track, though Staebell's talent and hugely likable stage presence consistently kept things rolling.
Aaron Staebell will perform "Solo Drum Solo" again on Monday, September 22, at Bernunzio Uptown Music. 6:30 p.m. $10.
Aaron Staebell performed "Solo Drum Solo" at Bernunzio Uptown Music | Video shot & edited by Matt DeTurck
I ended my night with "God of Carnage," which played to a small but very appreciative audience at RAPA's East End Theatre. The play, about a meeting between two sets of parents following a schoolyard altercation between their sons, starts out civilized and gradually devolves into chaos. It's a simple premise that yields some hilarious and biting commentary about the tenuousness of humanity's grasp on the principled way of life that we attempt to hold ourselves to. The fantastic cast (James Heath, Gretchen Woodworth, Louie Podlaski, Jennifer Blatto-Vallee) make the most of their juicy roles, and knock it out of the part--there's not a weak link to be found. It's just unfortunate that this was the sole performance scheduled for the week, and a bigger audience won't be able to enjoy one of the best shows I've seen at this year's Fringe Festival so far.