Pat Launer, Center Stage on KSDS JAZZ88
May 16, 2014
I don’t watch TV at home – so why should I watch it in the theater? A veritable sitcom has moved into Moxie Theatre – “Mud Blue Sky,” by Marisa Wegrzyn . This is Moxie’s fourth production of a work by the Chicago-based playwright, and it has the least depth.
Three flight attendants come together in a hotel room near O’Hare. At one point, there’s a high school boy in a tuxedo hiding out in the bathroom. But he’s just Beth’s pot-dealer, possibly headed to Cal Tech next year. Or maybe not. Similarly, Beth, who has a touching rapport with the kid, may leave her job and start a microbrewery. Or maybe not.
The dialogue is snappy and smart. To me, the over-enthusiastic opening-night audience sounded like a laugh-track. Things just weren’t all that funny. But the performances are terrific.
Every one of these aimless, unfulfilled losers is totally believable, thanks to the detailed direction of Jennifer Eve Thorn and her marvelous cast, grounded by the always-genuine DeAnna Driscoll as Beth. She doesn’t really want her co-workers in her room, and she only invites young Jonathan up because she owes him money.
They all smoke some weed and drink some $400 cognac, brought by the divorced and fired Angie, trying to put on a game face, in a poignant portrayal by Melissa Fernandes.
Frustrations and disappointments are revealed; rejections abound. Advice of the “It gets worse” variety is given to nerdy-but-nice Jonathan, who’s been dumped by his prom date. J. Tyler Jones is pitch-perfect in the role, both intrigued and intimidated by this middle-aged trio. Jo Anne Glover, bewigged as a blonde, is excellent as smartass Sam, the absent mom of a taciturn teen she doesn’t really know.
So, life is hard, when you’re young and when you’re older. It’s sometimes helpful to drown your disappointments in drink or drugs. And then you get up in the morning and do it again. Ho-hum. Cue the laugh-track.
“Mud Blue Sky” runs through June 8 at Moxie Theatre.
©2014 PAT LAUNER