Home > Free Essays > Art > Theater > “Moon Over Buffalo,” a Play by Ken Ludwig

“Moon Over Buffalo,” a Play by Ken Ludwig Critical Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Jun 15th, 2022


This is a review of Moon Over Buffalo, which is a farce set in Buffalo, New York in 1953. It has a repertory of Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives, which the couple, George and Charlotte struggle to perform as they face challenging family affairs with the hope of a visit from a Hollywood director.

Description of the plot

Moon Over Buffalo shows George Hay who is an actor and tours small theaters with his plays like Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives. George acts with his wife Charlotte Hay, who wants to have a career in movies.

Rosalind (Roz), the daughter of George and Charlotte, also acted alongside her parents and dated the manager, Paul. However, Roz leaves for a ‘normal life’ where she meets a weatherman presenter on television, Howard.

Eileen replaced Roz as an actor, but set the drama through her illicit affair with George. Other characters, who influence the play, are Ethel, a near-deaf mother-in-law to George, and Richard, the family lawyer, who has admired Charlotte for long.

Moon Over Buffalo uses a situation comedy approach accompanied with humor, slapstick elements, and sexual allusion. George must achieve some physical vigor in the play as he takes on a mock fencing match alongside Charlotte.

High-levels of physical performances are also in a wrestling match between George and Howard. George draws viewers’ attention by his physical and emotional aspects in the drama. The actors use fast-paced conversation and actions because of endless backbiting and hysterical efforts to end confusion among themselves.

The news about the coming of the Hollywood director, Frank Capra to watch a play by George and Charlotte, heightens comical moments within the drama. These actors cannot believe their luck because this is what they crave for and deserve.

However, these actors do not accept their difficult financial conditions. This element contributes to constant bickering in the play. The two plays within the play (Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives) reveal how Charlotte and George discuss issues about film and theater.

The tension and discussions about the illicit affair, alcohol consumption, and mistaken identities, wearing wrong dresses, and a fall in the pit all draw the audience’s attention. Finally, in this chaotic play, actors shall resolve their problems after the show.

Discussion of the main characters and actors and their performances

Robbie Shafer captures the audience’s attention by portraying Charlotte Hay as a jealous wife who wants to elope with Richard over her husband’s affair with Eileen.

Shafer portrays Charlotte perfectly well in a manner she engages George about their family troubles and a sword-fight. Shafer and Miller portray the characters at their best as they keep the audience laughing all along.

John Miller did an incredible job in the portrayal of George Hay. Miller grabs viewers’ attention in his drunken stupor and acts, the wrong costume, the wrong drama, later arrival and the pit accident.

Miller plays George’s role perfectly well by matching bodily and expressive aspects of the character because of comic acts with his wife throughout the drama.

Phil Parker plays the role of Howard, Roz’s nerdy fiancé. The best moment of Parker’s portrayal of Howard is when he sets a major confusion in the drama as Ethel, Charlotte’s hard-of-hearing mother, introduces him as the famous director, Frank Capra.

Kim Parker portrays Rosalind (Roz) at her best when she grabs viewers’ attention through her decision to the theater for a ‘normal life’, away from her family problems. However, Kim’s role becomes significant at the end of the play when she agrees to engage Paul on the spot.

Laura Price acts as Eileen. Eileen changes Georges’ life after the illicit affair in which she conceives. However, Laura portrayal of Eileen becomes important towards the end of the play when Howard says that he has met a former love, who is actually Eileen.

Philip Parker acts as Paul, stage manager of the actors. Philip grabs viewer’s attention when he turns out to be the true love of Roz.

Ann Sowby plays the role of Ethel, Charlotte’s hard-of-hearing mother who heightens confusion in the play by using malapropism of every word said. In fact, this role fits Ann as Ethel because of the confusion she brings to the drama.

Ron Roberts acts as the lovesick Richard who wants to rescue Charlotte from her unfaithful husband. Ron as Richard only becomes relevant in the play when Charlotte leaves George.

Discussion of the Blocking

The director manages to develop blocking through certain actions that depict normal behaviors of performers. The director achieves blocking by making actors available at certain points at appropriate moments.

For instance, we have George who falls in a pit and ends at the hospital. Howard’s visit heightens confusion in the play. Meanwhile, George reacts in a self-defense by tying Howard.

The director has managed to be active and inventive in order to enhance blocking as he encourages performers to enhance blocking by their creativity. As a result, actors have manipulated physical movements to enhance blocking.

Finally, the use of mistaken identities of various characters and malapropism also contribute to blocking in the play.

Blocking helps performers to act within their roles because they do not create their own characters from scratch. As a result, they are able to produce a cohesive and successful play.

Discussion of the scenic elements

The play has all the right scenic elements to make it a farce. There are many doors in the play as a part of the settings, which control movements of characters and enable actors to miss one another. The performers use these doors to perfection.

There are also sections that involve the use of doors, which lead to various areas of the house. The living room provides a scene of a family house with many sections to accommodate precise movements that fit a physical play.

Discussion of the lighting

The lighting design of Moon Over Buffalo aimed to serve two purposes. These included illuminating the stage and actors and creating a favorable mood and controlling the focus of the audience.

Moon Over Buffalo does use indirect sources of light with general illumination to create a scenic element of a living room. The lighting design presents direction on the stage, visibility, color and composition strength, dark shadow, mood, and movements of performers.

The first three elements transform to reflect outside setting on a balcony during the night in which lighting focuses on the actors.

Moon Over Buffalo lighting design enables viewers to see actors at all times as three-dimensional. The technical aspects of lighting account for the right visibility, movement, direction, and mood as they match other design elements.

The basic type of lighting in this play creates a lighting system of a house for performers. These sources of lights are before, at the sides of, and over the stage.

Discussion of the costumes

All actors have various costumes in the play. However, in a farce like this, costume creates confusion. We look at whatever all the actors wear during performances. We also look at clothing and accessories together with wigs and makeup of these actors.

George dresses appropriately for the Cyrano de Bergerac rather than Private Lives. Costumes used in the play aimed at portraying the real time in history.

We also focus on various elements of costumes such as color, cut, fabric, and weight of George and Charlotte’s costumes. They aim to simulate the physical nature of the play and reflect professional lives of struggling actors, especially George in his drunken stupor.

These costumes have formalized performers to reflect their everyday lives. This is why choices of cut, color, fabric, and design all reflect the nature of this drama, as they have to match the 1950s fashions.

Discussion of the sound

The sound production of Moon Over Buffalo was fine and successful because it met qualities of a physical drama. The notable element of sound in Moon Over Buffalo is the ringing telephone, which is a single call from Frank Capra.

There are also sounds of shattering glasses. The crew perfectly timed these elements of sounds to match other production elements like movements.

The constant shouting and bickering of actors made the sound designer kept the microphone at a good level to minimize effects of shouting. This created a seamless sound effect and musical segues, which enhanced ambiance of the play. As a result, sound did not distract viewers.

All the design elements in the play work together to develop a production that is cohesive, credible, and perfect because they all match the overall vision for the farce.

Discussion on preferences of the performance

The actors have a lot of experience for a physical drama. The director matched the speed of a physical through quick timing especially in a show with multiple doors where actors have to run in and out with energy and engage in constant talks.

However, the play leaves viewers to wonder whether George and Charlotte have any true feelings of love between them. George only shows that Charlotte bemuses him while Charlotte puts artificial feelings towards George. This makes the audience not feel any emotions for the actors.

Apart from the hilarious moments of the play, the play makes theater life look almost outdated because George and Charlotte depict that theater life is a dying form of art. As a result, actors only dream of a life and success in the movies. In general, the comedy achieves it purpose by making the audience laugh as it progresses.

However, it seems most of the Act I elements are just for rehearsal because it is in Act II where actions begin to develop as actors adopt physical elements of the play.

It is in Act II where we see confusion in the play, which depicts wrong lines and costumes for another. The play also achieves its comic effect through acting, blocking, and design element.

Moon Over Buffalo, as a farce, offers us comic moments with outstanding performers, who exploit hilarious misunderstandings, mass confusion, and comic characterization to their best. It has a great script with well-coordinated design elements that result in a cohesive production for slapstick lovers.

This critical essay on “Moon Over Buffalo,” a Play by Ken Ludwig was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Critical Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2022, June 15). "Moon Over Buffalo," a Play by Ken Ludwig. https://ivypanda.com/essays/review-moon-over-buffalo-by-ken-ludwig/


IvyPanda. (2022, June 15). "Moon Over Buffalo," a Play by Ken Ludwig. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/review-moon-over-buffalo-by-ken-ludwig/

Work Cited

""Moon Over Buffalo," a Play by Ken Ludwig." IvyPanda, 15 June 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/review-moon-over-buffalo-by-ken-ludwig/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Moon Over Buffalo," a Play by Ken Ludwig." June 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/review-moon-over-buffalo-by-ken-ludwig/.


IvyPanda. ""Moon Over Buffalo," a Play by Ken Ludwig." June 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/review-moon-over-buffalo-by-ken-ludwig/.


IvyPanda. 2022. ""Moon Over Buffalo," a Play by Ken Ludwig." June 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/review-moon-over-buffalo-by-ken-ludwig/.


IvyPanda. (2022) '"Moon Over Buffalo," a Play by Ken Ludwig'. 15 June.

Powered by CiteTotal, online essay bibliography maker
More related papers