Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Low Flying Aircraft"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Larry Stark

"Low Flying Aircraft
and one or two other bodies in motion"

by Dalyn A. Miller
Directed by Jason Southerland

Set Design by Laura C. McPherson
Lighting Design by Charles Foster
Stage Manager Dani L. Snyder

Joan..................Chloe Keller
Oliver.............Forrest Walter
Mother...........Mary Driscoll
Father.................Bob Dolan
Man..............Michael Ricca
Woman....Karen Woodward

In "Low Flying Aircraft And One or Two Other Bodies in Motion" Dalyn A. Miller talks about homosexuality, transsexuality, distant parents in deep denial, the history of flight, AIDS, mastectomies, the odd death of a beloved double-bass playing grandmother, maintenance of airliners, cancer, tattoos and model airplanes. A nuclear family of four, plus two all-purpose figures called Man (Michael Ricca) and Woman (Karen Woodward) describe and narrate these sorts of events, standing in Charles Foster's light-pools on Laura McPherson's spare set. They sit at dinner two or three times, illustrating dysfunction; at one point the by now familiar dialogue is on tape while the four mime another session in mildly expressionist pique. The acting is honest and sincere, Jason Southerland's direction is honest though flat, and the whole thing might have been moving and surprising ten years ago. The running time is exactly an hour and a half, and it feels like an illustrated short story.

The cast does everything they're asked to with a direct simplicity. Chloe Keller plays the brother-turned-sister, Forrest Walker the gay brother who celebrates his diagnosis by getting a large skull tattooed on his ass. Mary Driscoll plays the mother who as a first-grade teacher trusts no one over the age of six, Bob Driscoll plays the father who eschewed high school but loves fixing or modelling airplanes but "doesn't want to deal with that" whenever serious sexual choices emerge. Michael Ricca is among others both an excellent but "positive" top and a tattoo artist, while Karen Woodward is a fantasy-doctor and has one dynamite moment as an equal-opportunity women's lib schoolyard bully. Their playing is uniformly fine --- though on opening night holotropic instincts should have kept them out of shadows --- and Jason Southerland's direction of them is direct, warmly understated, and human. Dalyn Miller's script, however, is never very surprising and not very dramatic. For the Boston Theatre Works' first world premiere, it sets no worlds on fire


"Low Flying Aircraft" (till 5 March)
Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide