BUGGY & TYLER
Buggy & Tyler love each other… but very, very awkwardly and in very different ways. It’s not that they both have a hard time showing it; they don’t even know what “it” is and what it’s supposed to look like. It takes them ten years, in fact, to even begin to figure out what sort of friendship two misfit, mis-matched former college buddies can manage. From the imposing hallway outside the well-appointed Dean’s office where they meet, through a doctor’s office waiting room, a funeral home, a wretched first apartment, a really bad diner, and a deserted stretch of mountainous highway, this odd couple for a new generation stumble their way toward real intimacy over the course of several years… barely avoiding both disaster and serious embarrassment along the way.
Selected scenes from this play have been produced in and read by various companies and venues, though the play as a whole has not yet had its premiere. The car scene was produced by the Taffety Punk Theatre Company as part of an evening of one-acts called The Car Plays (2011). The funeral home scene was read at Theatre J (2010). The diner scene was commissioned by the Accokeek Creek Theatre Company and read at the Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival (2008). The two apartment scenes were taken, exactly as they are, from my play ABSTRACT NUDE, which was produced at the Capital Fringe Festival (2007). And the doctor’s office scene was produced as Red Stuff in the Mead Theatre Lab, the Kennedy Center, and the Washington Theater Festival in DC and at the ACME Theater in Boston (all in 2006).
I have already written (at modest length) about the process of creating this play. The idea for it occurred to me when I first realized I was bringing these two characters back, again and again, over several years, and couldn’t seem to shake them. I started to consider developing a piece just for them not long ago, and it didn’t take me long to realize that I had more material than I realized: enough to build a clear arc for the characters. Filling in the few gaps, honestly, was easy: I can write these two guys more easily than any other characters I’ve ever brought to life. Spending time with them is fun.
What do I have now, though, really? A bunch of discordant scenes? I don’t think so. I think what I have is a story that was so hard to write — for esoteric personal reasons I’m not clear about — I could only sneak up on it sideways. Whether I’ve finally arrived will be for others to determine, but I’ve seen enough of the work produced in various venues to know that it’s blindingly hysterical in some moments and tender when it really needs to be.
The one thing that sets BUGGY & TYLER apart is that it’s aimed at what I believe to be a non-traditional theater-going audience: the sort of young men (and women, I suppose) who would typically rather attend a broad Farrelly brothers comedy. (Think Dumb & Dumber.) This is, for me, a very under-served audience… at least in the theater. (Everywhere else? Not so much.) But make no mistake: the play will challenge them. What it does, I hope — or what it tries to do, very explicitly — is meet them where they feel comfortable, in the world of slapstick and low-brow gags and profanity, and guide them slowly over the course of the play to deeper, richer, more difficult territory. If it works, they’ll be laughing more out of anxiety than delight.
Am I done with these two guys? I have a feeling I’m not: I may never be done, in fact. But for now, this is where they live. And I’m glad they have a home.