Airport terminals provide great settings for iconic teary send-offs, nostalgic peaks of unrequited love torn asunder; revisit the movie classic “Casablanca” to reach for the Kleenex box. In a quirky one-night spin that brushes up against elements of romantic nostalgia and the realities of time’s passage, Steven Dietz’s Shooting Star offers WaterTower Theatre the opportunity to create an inspired tangibly real airport waiting room set and give two regional stage luminaries, Diana Sheehan and James Crawford, the chance to work comprehensive thespian magic in tandem accord.
Stuck snowbound in an airline terminal, one character flying to Boston, the other to Austin, Crawford and Sheehan’s evenly balanced comic gifts in character development are keenly matched by each actor’s impeccable instinct for following the dramatic tension underscoring key moments of self-revelation. Sans intermission, in classical Aristotelian fashion, the play reveals the realities of an idealistic, not always honest, college romance as examined through the no longer rose-colored lenses of the pair now a quarter century older. A chance encounter, long unspoken truths revealed, a good laugh and a lusty snuggle on the terminal floor after an excess of alcohol, the final parting wiser, not sadder: what starts to smack of “The Way We Were” in the script stings in retrograde with robust twinges of “Midnight Cowboy” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. Dietz understands how his multi-faceted characters drive the plot and gives them free rein to explore blind alleys and fall off cliffs in the labyrinthine world of relationship. Bruised, battered, shocked, outraged, resilient, committed to life – Dietz wells up a cornucopia of nuance and scope.
Former artistic director of Plano Repertory Theatre Mark Fleischer directs Shooting Star and inspires whimsical, charming, believable performances out of Cary Grant-like Crawford and Diane Keaton-esque Sheehan. The ebb and flow of the play feel like the predictable ebb and flow of a real Night at a Terminal spent with a former beloved. Michael Sullivan’s Mondrian-styled linear set design in cool grays and neutrals brings a gasp of delight from the audience when a life-sized projection of an airliner sails by the upstage floor to ceiling glass ‘window’, accompanied by the teeth-rattling rumblings of its engine ((Scott Guenther, sound/projection designer). Here’s lookin’ at ya, kid.
by Steven Dietz
May 27 – June 26, 2011
Directed by Mark Fleischer
Sponsored by Don & Barbara Daseke & American Airlines
Box Office: 972.450.6232
Mark Oristano photos
Review as run in June 2011 Arts & Culture DFW Magazine