‘Savage in Limbo’ brings the Bronx to UB


A Monday night at a Bronx bar is the best place to find yourself.

At least that’s what a couple of 32-year-old women found out this past weekend when the Bronx was brought to the UB Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre.

Students, alumni and locals alike came to Black Box to see Savage in Limbo performed by UB theater students. Written by John Patrick Shanley, the play explores the inner struggles of five adults living in the Bronx.

Denise Savage (Maria Small) walks into the bar ready to have a good time, but the 32-year-old finds it empty, except for the bar owner Murk (Benjamin Standford) and April White (Sarah Sullivan). With April asleep at the bar and Murk obsessively watering dead plants, Savage finds herself desperate for an emotional outlet.

Once her high school friend Linda Rotunda (Kelsey Gage) enters the bar crying, the night starts to pick up. With drinks in their hands, both girls begin to talk about their problems.

Audience members learn Savage is a lonely virgin looking to change. She is constantly proposing grand ideas and even suggests she and Linda get an apartment. Linda welcomes the idea, as she is currently angry with her boyfriend Tony Aronica (David Brown) for wanting to see “ugly women.”

The evening’s drama continues as April wakes up and Tony enters the bar. Savage tries to take Tony as her boyfriend, April accepts a proposal from Murk and with Murk keeping the drinks filled, everyone stays in a happy buzz.

Before the lights go out and the bar closes, Tony and Linda resolve their issues and leave together while April gets ready to leave with Murk.

Savage is left by herself; she didn’t find the change she was looking for.

Some audience members gave positive reviews of the tragi-comedy.

“I liked it a lot,” said Jes Tokarski, a sophomore theater performance major who went to support her friends in the show. “I liked watching it much better than reading it.”

Samantha Robatin, a junior theater major, didn’t have any expectations going into the show.

She said she was surprised it was only one act.

“I think Linda was played really well, she had a great laugh,” Robatin said.

Her distinctive, easy-going laugh is what added to the characterization of Linda, but as Tokarski said, “they all had big personalities.”

It was those personalities that made Maria Horne, director and professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, so pleased to work with them.

“Working with this group of young actors and theatre makers has been extremely rewarding,” Horne said via email. “The journey has been worth all the hard work because it is in the creative research, the process, the work, that we learn about our life in art and we gather the insight and tools for out next steps.”

To Horne, the point of directing is not to create actors; she challenges her students to become artists as well.

She said she fully encourages her actors “to stand their own ground, with confidence and valor, to make choices, to be present, to be active and to not solely rely on my vision but become my partners in creation.”

It was clear this group of actors was confident enough to hold their own.

“The journey from beginning to end was amazing,” Tokarski said. “Each person held their own presence.”

Savage in Limbo was not just a play designed to entertain, but also the tragedies of each of the characters encouraged the audience members to reflect on their own lives.

While Savage wandered around the stage unveiling her desire to change, she shows the importance of taking charge of your life and all of its problems, because once you turn 32, change might be too difficult.

Rebecca Vincent is a staff writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com