Adirondack Theatre Festival’s ‘Shooting Star’: Missed Connections and Re-Connections
By Anthony F. Hall
Monday, July 11, 2011
Nothing in life is ordained, of course, and perhaps we can’t help but think we might have made better choices somewhere along the way. But if we’re wise, we don’t look back.
But what if we were given the chance to re-assess the choices that in retrospect were the critical ones, and choose differently? To make a correction, mid-course, as it were?
That thought experiment drives Steven Dietz’s play, ‘Shooting Star’, which the Adirondack Theatre Festival’s Mark Fleischer directed in Texas for the WaterTower Theatre and which he has brought to the Charles R. Wood Theatre for a run that concludes on Saturday, July 16.
Described by the Adirondack Theatre Festival as “a wistful two-character comedy aimed directly at the soft heart of the baby boomer generation,” the play brings together two former lovers who find themselves, and one another, in a snowed-in airport somewhere in the Midwest.
“The two characters, Elena and Reed, have decades of change and adventure to explore, as well as the delicate business of defining just who they are for each other right now,” said Fleischer.
An airport is, of course, precisely the right setting for such an encounter.
Where else can one plausibly expect to run into the old friends and acquaintances who have long since spun out of one’s own orbit? And as the characters are in transit and thus abstracted from their daily lives, they are in the right place – intellectually and physically – to ponder the possibility of reversing past choices.
The action unfolds over roughly a twenty-four-hour period in an airport lounge, beautifully designed and lit by Michael Sullivan and Jeff Stover, respectively, both of the WaterTower Theatre.
Reed, played by James Crawford, is a straight, balding middle-aged man.
Elena, played by Diana Sheehan, continues to dress in the style she apparently adopted in the 1970s when the two lived together in Madison, Wisconsin and daydreamed of living on a commune.
They are bound together by shared references, artfully woven into the script by Dietz, who even drops the name of that late, lamented rock critic Lester Bangs. At the same time, they use their current differences in politics and social attitudes to maintain their distance from one another.
That distance is necessary to them both, because they had, and have, much more in common than their superficial differences will admit. We don’t know until the play nears its end whether those missed connections in an airport will result in a lasting re-connection.
When Mark Fleischer praises another director, he calls him a good storyteller, and it is Fleischer’s own ability as a storyteller that keeps “Shooting Star” moving swiftly forward, even as the characters grow more complex and nuanced.
Only strong, intelligent actors, however, could sustain an audience’s interest in these two characters and their futures. Although the play consists entirely of dialogue and the occasional monolgue, Crawford and Sheehan bring a physicality to the characters that makes “A Shooting Star” a pleasure to watch.
The Adirondack Theatre Festival’s productions are staged the Charles R. Wood Theater, 207 Glen Street, in downtown Glens Falls. Tickets for ‘Shooting Star’ are $35 and can be purchased by calling (518) 874-0800.