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  Buzzer at Goodman Theatre


Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

Jackson is a young, successful African American attorney determined to build a life in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of his youth. When he returns "home" with his girlfriend and troubled best friend-both white-in tow, the trio are soon forced to confront the simmering racial and sexual tensions that exist both inside and outside their apartment. This dexterous and dark comedy from playwright Tracey Scott Wilson (The Good Negro) fearlessly tackles fear and suspicion in a quickly changing world.

Thru - Mar 9, 2014

Price: $10-$40

Stage: Owen Theatre

Show Type: Dark Comedy

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 2hrs, 15mins; one intermission

Goodman Theatre Seating Charts

Suggested Nearby Restaurant

  Buzzer Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...Actually, Thebus' production is very dynamic throughout — at least until the last few minutes, when some of the air goes out of the drama. The dissipation is partly a production problem, but it also is an indicator that Wilson needs to make some judicious late-in-the-game cuts. It's only at the very end where you feel that the play is in any way mechanical or manipulative, and that's because Wilson and Thebus keep going, inevitably haltingly, when the characters have already made their choices and set their fates. Such nips and tucks would be easy to make — these three lost souls provide all the clues anyone needs — and then everyone will be trying to buzz this thing into their lobbies."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Not Recommended

"...Tracey Scott Wilson’s “Buzzer,” now on the Goodman Theatre’s Owen stage, is an astoundingly bad play. It purports to be about race, class and neighborhoods-in-transition. But it is not really about any of these things. Rather, it is a wholly contrived, insulting, phony piece of work that is at best manipulative and at worst dishonest — a transparent construct masquerading as a deep drama."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Why should events that make good narrative sense when you think about them make no sense at all in performance? I think it's a matter of skewed dynamics. In Jessica Thebus's staging, Jackson is so completely the victim-and Eric Lynch's portrayal of him so sympathetic-that the issue of his culpability in what happens between Don and Suzy is never addressed. The roomies wreck his life, not the other way around. They're not people but agents of the playwright's message. Lacking any independent being, they exist only to torture poor Jackson. And so, when they get together, it looks like they're acting against their will, their better interests, and even the rules of attraction. Hence, "What?!""
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Tony Adler

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Stark nicely communicates Suzy's discomfort in reckoning with her discomfort, while Lynch persuasively sells Jackson's deeply divided feelings about his roots. Kenyon, meanwhile, imbues Don with enough nervy charm that you almost believe the doubtful circumstances of this living arrangement. But while this and other elements of Wilson’s script can feel awfully facile and convenient, it drops us off in an area worth exploring from all sides."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...As Tracey Scott Wilson’s urban tragi-comedy “Buzzer” spins through a series of introductory monologues, its mordant wit and coalescing picture of a ménage à trois suggests an updated bundling of the two young men and a woman in Noel Coward’s “Design for Living.” Though the laughs keep coming in “Buzzer,” the comedy soon hones the edges of a bitter tale — of love and hope infected by torment and fear. Goodman Theatre serves it up as potent brew. "
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...For all the play’s mash-up of fascination and familiarity, the starkest, most absorbing pay-off comes in a mute final scene. Suffice it to say it’s a Trayvon Martin-like moment, replete with reflexive racial profiling and a “failure to communicate.” Instantly and silently it drives home the play’s anguished ambiguities about class and comfort, hope and fear, and the perils of “progress.” Retroactively, Wilson’s wordless “reveal” could almost make Buzzer seem talky and contrived. Yet, later on, this last blast may itself seem formulaic and forced. But as it happens it sure hits hard."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...While the performances were fine, Shane Kenyon's work as the struggling addict give an honest glimpse into the conflicts facing addicts. Buzzer is a 21st Century treatment of how urban renewal affects both the new arrivals and the old residents where fear and envy cloud the neighborhood. Buzzer needs a clearer drone."
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Tom Williams

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...There are some wonderful moments in the production and while there are many who will find this piece one that will bring conversation quickly, I found the ending a bit to stark. I didn’t feel that we needed to have it thrown in our faces. This is the type of play that allows for an open discussion with the cast or crew after each  Wednesday performance."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...Change is inevitable and myths become shattered as the world evolves. Hopefully bi-racial relationships will one day become as accepted as the idea that the world is round. Progress continues to be made and improvement grows but it's never finished. However, with talented, perceptive playwrights, like Tracey Scott Wilson, the important questions continue to be asked reminding us that we still have a long way to go."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...BUZZER *IS* a sitcom I’d watch.  It’s funny and dramatic.  It playfully forces me to confront my own prejudices.  The visually, thought-provoking ending put me in the entryway wondering what I would do.  I definitely want to tune in next week to see this threesome.  Maybe it is more like a soap opera than a sitcom because I’m totally meshed in what happened to a watch.  I have my theory.   "

Katy Walsh

  Buzzer Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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