A romantic comedy with a measure of drama, Shooting Star is playwright Steven Dietz' ode to the 1970s, failed relationships and middle age.
Staged by Cascade Theatrical Company and performed excellently by a two-person cast, most of the play takes place over a 24-hour period during an epic snowstorm. Two ex-lovers, the NPR-listening hippie Elena Carson, played by Lilli Ann Linford-Foreman (longtime director and actor at CTC) and the now-conservative businessman Reed McAllister, played by Don Delach (Fuddy Meers).
"It's funny and really touching and I think it's a universal experience of running into someone you knew a long time ago," explained Linford-Foreman. "Having all kinds of things you want to say to them and realizing they're not the same person as when you knew them."
The rom-com setup is somewhat familiar: Over the past quarter-century, the two ex-lovers' lives have moved far away from each other, both philosophically and geographically—one lives in Boston, the other in Texas. Delach plays the sharply dressed married business man while Linford-Foreman's character dabbles in the Bohemian musical community. They are now complete strangers, only held together by a shared moment from so long ago. The two accidentally bump into one another in an anonymous Midwest airport and are forced, first by obligatory politeness and then by the grounding of all flights, to rehash their past.
"It's a play for all of those moments that you look back on and say, 'God I wish I hadn't done that,' " said Juliah Rae (former director of local plays All My Sons, Distracted, Steel Magnolias) who is co-directing the production with Ron McCracken (actor in more than 10 plays at CTC who is taking on his first directing role in Shooting Star).
With 25 years of history to catch up on, the play rolls by, peppered with soap-opera twists, tearful admissions and lots of belly laughs. Playwright Dietz is skillful in moving the conversation and plot forward with sexual tension and humor.
The script jibes well with actress Linford-Foreman, who is a dead ringer for a '70s flowerchild in a flowing dress and cowboy boots; with an emotional range from brassy and honest to devastated and regretful, she captures the awkwardness of the unplanned reunion (and ensuing debacle) with ease. The play left a residue of real-life regret, thoughts of past relationships, and the image of the two players rolling around on the stage floor burned into my brain.
"There's nothing like watching middle-aged people make out," Linford-Foreman said with a laugh.
Dietz' plays are well-known. In 2010, he placed eighth on the list of 10 most produced playwrights in America (sans Shakespeare), tied with Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee for number of productions.
"When I read the play I just found it very sweet and poignant in that it doesn't have that happy or contrived ending," said Rae. "But, the resolution allows these two people to move on with their lives."
Unbelievable serendipity aside, the play is an honest examination of how we change (or don't change) over time, and a humorous reinforcement of all those clichés about midlife crises.
7:30 pm Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2:00 pm Sundays
April 26-May 12
Cascade Theatrical Company Playhouse, 148 NW Greenwood
$24, seniors $18, students $12