Seventy Scenes of Halloween is probably 20 scenes too many, but it's a neat trick of a show anyway. A fractured portrait of a crumbling marriage, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's version of the Jeffrey M. Jones play starts out innocently with a ringing doorbell on Halloween night and quickly transports the audience into the crazed psyches of a ready-to-kill-each-other couple. Everything is first-rate in this production, starting with virtuoso direction by Megan Wells and exquisite sound effects by Galen Ramsey. Michael Moon's set hits just the right balance between weirdo jagged edges and cozy, normal domesticity, and the lighting that makes it work comes courtesy of Jon Gantt and Liesje Maat. There's not a false move by any of the performers: Scott Mullins is endearing as the blundering stage manager, Robert J. Bailey II and Krishna Sallman are totally believable as the tormenting and tormented husband and wife, and Karen Holbert and Jimmy Freund are deliciously nasty as the pair's mostly masked alter egos, Witch and Beast. This apparently autobiographical script, with its series of short, "randomly ordered" blackout scenes (which the playwright says the director may rearrange), is savage, magical, and funny--and a challenge to master. This is a terrific production, weakened only by its length. Since the circular structure of the play, so effective as a piece of interior drama, bars the possibility of real climax or resolution, nothing much happens in the second act that isn't (or couldn't be) understood in the first.
Seventy Scenes of Halloween continues through November 11 at Harold D. McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, 22nd and Park in Glen Ellyn. Performances are at 8 PM Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 PM Sundays. Tickets are $20 on Thursdays and $22 on weekends; there's a $2 discount for students and seniors. A special Halloween night performance will begin at 8 PM; tickets are $20. Call 630-942-4000 for tickets or information.