Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents touching family drama ‘The Outgoing Tide’ through March 3

Family is the most rewarding, yet the most difficult thing in the world. It can make you happy, and it can drain energy out of you. People who love each other must learn to deal with each other no matter what, for better or worse. It is especially hard when one of the family members must deal with health issues, or any other issues. It’s a period when all the family members unite around that person.

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble is presenting a play called “The Outgoing Tide” by Bruce Graham and directed by guest director Steve Scott that touches sensitive and even dramatic moments in one family’s life.

The play, which opened Feb. 2, is running through Sunday, March 3, at the Playhouse Theatre at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

There will be an American Sign Language performance at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22.

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, as always, brings the names of big professionals to its production. Besides numerous honors and awards, Graham received Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award for Northlight Theatre’s world premiere production of “The Outgoing Tide.” Scott returns for his ninth production at BTE, where he most recently directed “Andy Warhol’s Tomato.” For more than 30 years he served as producer at the Goodman Theatre where he is currently an artistic associate and board member.

“The Outgoing Tide” is a psychological drama where the father, Gunner, has Alzheimer’s disease. Every day, he slowly gets worse and worse. He forgets things, sometimes doesn’t remember his own family, mistakes the microwave for a television, and can’t remember some words. His wife, Peg, and his son, Jack, are very supportive and really want to help him.

However, during the play we find out that the family has many other ongoing problems. Gunner always has been a little bit too controlling and sometimes he says weird and rude things. He still likes to tease his son. Jack goes through his divorce and besides that must deal with his teenage son who causes problems. He also deals with some questions and memories from his own childhood. Peg deals with things the way she knows and wants to put Gunner into an assisted living facility. Gunner rejects this offer and comes up with a different plan. He thinks it’s the best plan ever. What kind of a plan is it?

Spoiler alert — you might not want to read the next three paragraphs if you want to see the play.

Gunner studies the terms of his life insurance and finds a way to support his family better after his death. The problem is solved (in his mind) — he will not be an embarrassment anymore, and the family will have tons of money to live after his death. Gunner loves to fish next to the couple’s summer cottage on Chesapeake Bay. All the neighbors know that he never wears a life jacket when he goes fishing. So, he decides to drown and to leave all the money, which his insurance would give in case of accident, to his wife and son.

Peg fights this plan. She is scared and shocked. Jack is unhappy about this situation too. However, Gunner doesn’t want to change his plans. All that he needs from them is their blessing to do it. This will be the hardest, most gut-wrenching decision his son and especially his wife will ever have to make.

But will this money give them happiness? Or is it not about the money and it’s mostly about personal choices? However, what about the moral obligations and moral pain of all three of them in this case? Each audience member will have to form their own opinion. Each of us answers these questions differently.

However, this play is not as dark and tragic as one might think. It has funny moments and jokes and is laced with considerable humor. Because it’s about life, and life is not black and white, it has many colors, tones, and nuances.

The only Equity ensemble theater in DuPage County, BTE earns its reputation every time its cast takes the stage. In this play, as in every play staged by this theater, the actors’ ensemble is well chosen, and each actor is a perfect fit for their role. The audience members easily relate to each of them and to the situation demonstrated in “The Outgoing Tide” in general.

Bryan Burke performs the role of Gunner. Burke is a member of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble and an adjunct faculty member in the theater department at College of DuPage. He is an actor and a director. Burke was also a founding member of Chicago’s Cactus Theatre Company. He holds a B.G.S. degree in theater from the University of Kansas. He is also a member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Nick DuFloth, who performs the role of Jack, comes from Columbia College Chicago and holds an A.A from College of DuPage, where he was the recipient of the John Belushi Memorial Scholarship. He was a co-founder and ensemble member of Silent Theatre Company. He has been onstage with T.U.T.A., Lifeline Theater, Speaking Ring Theater, PROP Theater, and many other Chicago companies. He is in the music video “Crossfire” by the artist Stephen, and can be seen on screen in the “Hitwomen” webisode series, and feature film “Dead of Winter.” He is honored to be back at Buffalo Theatre Ensemble.

Connie Canaday Howard performs the role of Peg. She directed numerous productions for BTE and performed in various plays. She is a member of Actors’ Equity and is on the artistic team of the Jeff Committee. In addition, she was theater director at the College of DuPage through 2022. She holds an M. F. A in directing. She is the statewide co-chair of the Theatre Panel for Illinois Articulation Initiative, and she was C.O.D.’s Outstanding Faculty for 2003-04.

All three actors find the best way to present their characters in “The Outgoing Tide.” Their dialogs and monologues are engaging, touching, and thought provoking. The actors’ communication with each other is realistic and full of true-life reactions and behaviors. Each actor demonstrates the best side of their talent in this play. Bryan, Nick, and Connie create a great actor’s ensemble, and their presentation of this family tragedy is breathtaking and extremely emotional.

It’s important to notice that “The Outgoing Tide” is the Jeff recommended play. “Jeff Recommended” indicates that at least one element of a production was deemed excellent by opening night judges. The entire production is then eligible for nomination at the end of the season. In this case, it’s not surprising that this thought-provoking play that explores family, love, and the ebb and flow of life has already attracted so much attention.

“First seen at Northlight Theatre in 2011, Bruce Graham’s powerful drama is easily relatable to anyone who has confronted or observed the uneasy truths of mortality,” wrote director Steve Scott in the director’s note. “But beyond that, it is a finely wrought portrait of a family whose current crisis reveals the exuberant highs and debilitating lows of 50 years of life. Laced with bracing humor and emotional confrontation, it captures the ‘outgoing tide’ that we will all face — while showing us the grace, compassion, and abiding love that can ease the tragedy of that journey.”

Tickets are $44. For tickets and additional information, call (630) 942-4000 or go to The box office is open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and two hours prior to performance.

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble is partially supported and funded by generous grants from Arts DuPage, Choose DuPage, College of DuPage Foundation, The Norm Woodel Inspiration Fund, the DuPage Foundation, Benevity, Illinois Arts Council Agency and the generous support of the College of DuPage trustees and the McAninch Arts Center staff.

This production is presented by arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc.

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