What do you do when you’re waiting….And waiting….AND WAITING….
At Gate B23 (written and directed by Debbie Slevin) we watch as 7 people try to figure out what to do when they are forced to look more deeply into their lives – because this time they’re not allowed to just gloss over all the situations as they normally would. The escalating tension turns to transformation again and again, as being forced to actually talk with those you’re with pushes everyone to make decisions they never would have otherwise. Whether new bonds are forged, burst asunder or reinforced to stay the same, the play is always moving along as it focuses on the different people who are waiting – so it’s really like several small plays wrapped into one.
Before the play begins we are swept into the mood by many fun, introspective travelling songs like Leaving, on a Jet Plane and I’ll Fly Away. The scenery is a perfect representation of what you see when you go to an airport: chairs and a small table at an airport bar on the side. Thanks to Crystal Johnson the stage manager for really putting us in the midst of it all.
Our story begins as Heather Gilbert (as the Gate Agent) makes the announcement that Flight 7051: Palm Beach to Newark is DELAYED (along with many other funny little announcements of various things the passengers should not do). Meanwhile, a Teen-aged Girl (Gina Marie Jamieson) rebels against her terrible ordeal of being bored in the airport by gossiping on the phone the entire time with and about her best friend.
Lilah (Jody Lyn Flynn) is a middle-aged divorcee who on her way back “home” to New Jersey after 10 years of self-imposed exile. She is found by Zach (Scott Morse) an irrepressible twenty-something year old who is certain that Lilah is the one for him. He’s just charming enough he might just pull it off getting her to love him back before the flight takes off. As the plane keeps getting delayed further, his changes look better and better.
Bertha, played by Sue-Ellen Mandell, is a rascally old lady who has had several husbands and many quirky adventures over the years in her home in New Jersey. Her daughter Lotte, is unfortunately the only one who’s still willing to help care for her as Bertha’s memories are slipping away and muddling together as her continuity of existence is disappearing. Lotte is taking her mother back home to New Jersey because they just can’t afford to let her live in her Florida retirement community anymore. This tragic situation replays itself over and over again as Lotte keeps having to remind her mother in bits and pieces of what is going on and what has been going on for years.
Finally we’re introduced to Walter and Travis, played by Bill Fitzburg and Alex Adams respectively. Walter is Travis’ stepfather and is there to bring Travis back home to a mother who (it is alluded to) is gravely ill. Travis seems to be at first to be a sullen ornery teenager just trying to run away from home, but we find out a number of causes of his estrangement from his stepfather and home as the play progresses.
The moral of the story is that you never know who is waiting with you in the airport. Prepared to be surprised and deeply touched by the powerful twists that weave through this play. Thanks to writer/director Debbie Slevin for creating such a provocative play about what happens when we’re forced to pay attention to our lives. And for working with the cast to really make this such a tightly performed and and emotionally charged play.
Writer: Debbie Slevin
Director: Debbie Slevin
VENUE #8: Tom Noonan’s Paradise Factory