This One Night

Rated 3.0 There’s a lot to like about Buck Busfield’s latest holiday play, This One Night. The script’s opening passages (nicely performed by actors Jonathan Stutzman and Harold Smith) feature some of Busfield’s best writing to date. It’s both funny and introspective.The production is also very well cast. Smith plays an old man who spends most of the play in his lounge chair. June Carryl is the nurse who cares for him. Busfield sets up a wonderful character conflict between them. The old man’s white, a Quaker and sour. The nurse is black, a Baptist and nobody’s fool. She responds with biting (but not cruel) wit whenever the old man pushes her buttons. Stutzman is very appealing as young Adam, and David Pierini makes a solid appearance in the final scene.

However, by the play’s end, you might wish there was just a little more of it. The script needs fleshing out. The story hinges on a character transformation, but a few more clues are needed to bring the audience along. The ending might leave you feeling uncertain about how you got there.

It’s possible that something was cut. The play runs barely an hour. Pierini is credited as playing “Others” in the program, but he appears only as one character. Jan Ahders, a powerful actress, simply deals cards in the background.

As with previous Busfield holiday plays, This One Night doubtless is a work in progress. Scenes may be added, and lines revised, throughout the run. With a little strengthening, This One Night likely will stack up as the best of Busfield’s holiday scripts.