Tracey Scott Wilson has crafted an intense one-act drama, with the action and the tension constantly building. Scenes overlap; a character will be having a conversation, then turn and begin a new scene and conversation with another character without taking a breath. It never lets up, until the final painful confrontation. Here's the plot summary I wrote last year:
Jackson is a successful lawyer who grew up poor in a neighborhood filled with drugs and violence, and was able to get himself out and make a better life for himself. He rents (to own) a newly remodeled apartment in his old neighborhood, which is transitioning from a "bad neighborhood" to one with coffee shops and lofts and restaurants. He and his girlfriend Suzy, a teacher in the inner-city schools, move in. Jackson convinces Suzy to let his down-on-his-luck best friend Don move in with them, despite her reluctance. Don is from a privileged background, and despite constantly getting himself into trouble, has been able to get out of it thanks to his rich and powerful father. Jackson was given nothing and worked hard to achieve the life he wanted, while Don squandered every opportunity he had. But somehow the two men remained friends. Their friendship is tested when Suzy tells Don that she's being harassed on the street, and they grow closer. Each member of the trio has their own plan to end the harassment. Suzy thinks that if she stays strong and ignores the bullies, they'll eventually stop. Jackson wants to threaten them with violence, while Don thinks reasoning with them and being friendly will solve the problem. The conflict grows inside the apartment and outside on the street.
|Namir Smallwood, Sara Richardson, and Hugh Kennedy|
The title refers to the broken buzzer in the apartment building, and who the residents are willing to let in based on their own prejudices and assumptions, which may not agree with what they claim to believe. In the program notes, the playwright says, "The young characters in Buzzer think they are beyond race. They were raised on ethnic food, multi-cultural TV and hip-hop. They don't discuss race because they don't see race. They know slavery was an abomination and all men are created equal. What's to discuss? They discover that there is a lot to discuss and keeping silent is much more destructive than speaking the truth." This play breaks through the silence and speaks the truth, at least from the point of view of each of these three complex characters. It doesn't offer any solutions, but addressing the issues and bringing them to light is a great beginning.