Shooting Star

Andrew May and Laurie Klatscher
The two-person, 90-minute play is alive and well in the regions. It's easy to see why these shows are produced, and playwrights provide a reliable supply. For audiences, they are sometimes a mere light diversion; at their worst, they steal only an hour and a half of your life. It's good news that Stephen Dietz' Shooting Star, at the City through May 16, fits somewhere in the middle of that spectrum and, though it's not deep or profound, it is a pleasant approach to a familiar story and, in the case of the City's production, sparked by two winning performances.

It's probably not unusual for a baby boomer to, once far enough from youth for wistfulness to set in, wonder what happened to an early love. What kind of person is he or she in adulthood? Should they really have broken up? Would I be better off now ...? Reed (Andrew May) and Elena (Laurie Klatscher) are two such boomers. They entered, or were forced into, responsible adulthood years after living together in a time that sounds hippie-ish, though the timeline doesn't really fit that. They were different then—he, more than a little buttoned-up and she, open and idealistic. As they find out when stranded together in an airport during a snowstorm, they haven't changed all that much. And, as expected, they get along better in some ways, less in others, than they did when they were young.

Dietz reveals at a perfect pace, the details of the now and the then of both characters. The audience can easily identify with both, especially at the onset as we're privy to the inner battle of each when deciding whether or not to even acknowledge the other in the airport. This brief interlude is made charming and believable through the performances of May and Klatscher. Not a full-out comedy, the ample humor is the real-life kind.

Klatscher fits perfectly into the role of the 21st century earth mother, who has never completely found her way. And May looks and acts the part of a businessman at midlife with the requisite conflicting comfort and discomfort. We don't need much exposition to know these characters, though each has a secret or two (the biggest—hers—being the most interesting, but maybe not as plausible as intended). Both characters needed this meeting, and they're better for it.

Tony Ferrieri, a champ at providing set designs that are realistic and practical, gives us the appropriately boring airport waiting area (though, if we're going to get a nice, big window to see the record-setting snowstorm, many more flakes, please!). Ange Vesco's costuming is perfection, particularly for Klatscher's Elena. Tracy Brigden does her usual fine job in guiding the two actors along in this satisfying and audience-pleasing (at least for audiences of a certain age) short story of a play.

Shooting Star continues on the Hamburg Stage for Pittsburgh City Theatre through May 16. For performance and ticket information, call 412.431.CITY (2489) or visit Starting May 8 on the main-stage is Robert Hewett's The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead starring Michelle Pawk.

Photo: Suellen Fitzsimmons

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-- Ann Miner

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