Unrealistic response to sexual abuse
“Buckshot”, Macha Monkey’s world premiere by local playwright, Courtney Meaker, is running at Cornish Playhouse STUDIO ( not to be confused with the Cornish Playhouse-the old Intiman space). Like many Seattle Fringe productions, it deals with a “hot” topic but neglects to present it realistically or with an effective dramatic structure.
The fundamental flaw was that the main character’s actions were not believable. In order to be believable, a character has to be placed in a position where they are compelled by external and/or internal forces to take the action they take. This was not the case.
The main character Alana, played by Katie Driscoll, is a lesbian transplant from red-neck Tennessee to Seattle, who has not come to terms with having been sexually abused by her Uncle Hal. Being an expert marksman, she decides that the only way to let go of her pain is to shoot and kill the uncle who molested her and her brother. She has many of the typical responses of a survivor of sexual abuse rather than a recovered sexual abuse victim
What is atypical about her, as a 21st Century Seattleite, is that she has never sought help, nor do any of her supportive friends ever suggest it. Had this play been set in the pre-Oprah era, when the influence of Dr. Fraud (aka Dr. Sigmund Freud) was still strong, the absence of any mention of getting help might have been plausible, but not nowadays.
Structurally, too much time was spent telegraphing the audience about the backstory, with too many scenes making the same point. The exposition lasted until well into the second act. Only one scene contained any character development; and it wasn’t Alana’s development but the brother’s. The writing was wordy, with a lot of extraneous material thrown in.
The set seemed very thrown together. Except for the excellent acting of Saul played by Daniel Wood, the brother, who rose above the material, the rest of the actors were adequate but not very convincing especially the lead, Alana, who did not seem to inhabit her character.
Rather than starting with a set of given circumstances and logically developing them, the playwright seemed to have written the play backwards, starting with the shooting and then working out a justification. It would have been a much stronger play if Alana had been on the path to recovery.
BUCKSHOT by Courtney Meaker, Macha Monkey. Cornish Playhouse Studio-( not be be confused with Cornish Playhouse-the old Intiman space. The STUDIO is located in a separate building North of the North side of the Cornish Playhouse closer to the fountain) Thurs, Fri, Sat. 8 pm Through Nov 23. www.machamonkey.org