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An Iliad

Flight

Michael Wallerstein's play about a woman, her son, and an assisted living administrator is less than compelling.

By New York City
Maria Tucci and Maddie Corman
in Flight
(© Michael Schwartz)
Maria Tucci and Maddie Corman
in Flight
(© Michael Schwartz)
The opening moments of a play can be crucial, setting the tone, rhythm and structure for what's to come, and unfortunately, Michael Wallerstein's well-intentioned but less-than-compelling Flight, now at the DR2, gets off to a shaky start.

The play begins with a confusing scene where the protagonist, Andrew (Jonathan Walker), is somehow mistaken for his Romanian girlfriend, at a party where she's to tell of her escape from the Ceausescu regime.

This is all communicated through a couple of one-side phone calls that Andrew makes on his cell phone. The first one is mistakenly to his shrink, who we learn is number five on his speed dial, instead of his absent girlfriend, who's number two.

We never quite learn why the girlfriend doesn't show up as the conversation shifts to his speed dial rankings and who's the elusive number one. It's his mom, Judith (Maria Tucci), who's in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease.

We meet Judith in the next scene when Andrew visits her, and they spend much of the play recounting memories, including difficult ones involving Judith's childhood in a concentration camp that she hid from Andrew. Sadly, the exchanges between Andrew and Judith are unmemorable at best and tedious at worst.

Indeed, many of the play's 90-minutes drag on mercilessly thanks to Padraic Lillis' often stagnant direction. (Lea Umberger's lackluster set and costumes don't help matters, either.)

Fortunately, there's one ray of light: Maddie Corman, who delivers a strong performance as Linda, a quirky administrator in the assisted living facility where Judith lives. She often says the wrong things and can be awkward, but has a genuine concern that shines above all.

Corman teases out this subtle grace even when Linda's the butt of the joke. In one scene, she mistakenly believes she's on a date with Andrew when he asks her to get a drink at a bar to talk about his mother, and Corman shifts from a flirty curiosity to embarrassment and then concern without missing a beat.


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