BWW Review: Last Call for Boarding MUD BLUE SKY
Mud Blue Sky
Written by Marisa Wegrzyn, Directed by Bridget Kathleen O'Leary; Scenic Design, Esme Allen; Costume Design, Bridgette Hayes; Lighting Design, Joe Short; Sound Design, Skylar Burks; Properties, John Tracey; Properties Artist, Matt Baynes; Production Stage Manager, Erin Baglole; Assistant Stage Manager, Phil Esposito
Performances through June 5 by Bridge Repertory Theater at Deane Hall, Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA; Box Office 617-933-8600 or www.bridgerep.org
Last call for boarding Mud Blue Sky, a comedy by Marisa Wegrzyn which concludes Bridge Repertory Theater's third season. Tickets are available for all three shows that remain this weekend at Deane Hall at the Boston Center for the Arts and there are no extra charges for baggage. Speaking of baggage, the three flight attendants in this story have plenty of it, and Director Bridget Kathleen O'Leary draws colorful performances from Leigh Barrett (Beth), Deb Martin (Sam), and Veronica Anastasio Wiseman (Angie) as the world-weary travelers, and Kaya Simmons (Jonathan), a Northeastern University student making his professional debut, as the adolescent pot-dealer forgoing his prom to service his high-flying clients.
Set in a non-descript hotel and the adjacent parking lot near Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Mud Blue Sky is propelled by the stories of its characters, each of whom is at a personal crossroads of regret and opportunity. Caustic Beth, who suffers from back pain, self-medicates with a little help from Jonathan and a stash of nip bottles. She is contemplating early retirement and dreaming of opening a microbrewery. Sam is unfiltered, an energetic party girl who pretty much says what comes into her mind, but her loosey-goosey behavior belies her guilt about the teenage son left at home while she flies around the country. They are visited by Angie, a former co-worker still struggling to find herself after being laid off by the airline two years earlier. In contrast to the three women navigating the shoals of middle age, Jonathan faces life choices about dating and whether or not to attend college.
Mud Blue Sky gives Barrett a rare showcase for her straight acting and comedic chops without singing a note and she takes full advantage. Her body language reflects Beth's back aches and her existential pain, while her eye rolls and facial expressions convey exactly what she feels in no uncertain terms. She can be pretty prickly, but she draws from an inner store of warmth and concern when dealing with Jonathan. Barrett and Simmons share great chemistry, creating a relationship between their characters that feels genuine, and his is an impressive debut. Martin uses her body to define her character, displaying a knack for physical comedy, but she is more than funny. Her nuanced performance merits close observation as she shifts Sam in and out of disappointment, playfulness, anger, worry, and dangerousness. As an eleventh hour replacement for Adrianne Krstansky who had to withdraw due to an injury, Wiseman fits in perfectly as the woman who doesn't really belong to the club anymore. She appears awkward as she tries too hard, tipping her hand as to how tough life has become, and knowing that you can't go back.
Within the intimate Deane Hall, the design team (Esme Allen, scenic; Bridgette Hayes, costume; Joe Short, lighting; Skylar Burks, sound) gives the audience a voyeuristic experience. They bring us into the hotel bedroom, where cable tv plays in the background, and put us out in the dimly lit parking lot with airplanes flying overhead. Bridge Rep makes it their mission "to connect actors to audiences, artists to artists, and the theatre to our city." You can walk or take your car or the T to get to the BCA this weekend, but there's not much time to left to book your flight for the journey to Mud Blue Sky.