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Shotgun Players original production

Wednesday, Nov 15 2000
This Shotgun Players original production capers nicely along with fresh, witty dialogue (by playwrights Tania Katan and Daniele Nathanson), and contains a wonderful performance by Amanda Duarte. (She's also been brilliant in Chekhov and Shaw this season. She's a knockout.) Director Katie Bales stages the show creatively, especially the rapid scene changes. But Arrivals//Departures isn't as satisfying an experience as Shotgun's glorious Swimming in the Shallows last year. The story concerns a family whose mother left years ago from the local small-town airport. The son, Nick (Ryan Gowland), a would-be filmmaker, works as a ticketing agent at the same airport and screws around with flight announcements. ("She's beautiful, she's exotic, she's Scranton -- now departing from gate 3.") His sister, Felix (Jennifer Taggart), a parachutist, has just met Rose (Lindsay Anderson) on a flight and is giddy in love, while crusty Dad (Gene Thompson) is about to marry Carol, who's served his needs weekly for the past 11 years. Duarte is Tori, a neurotic whose many love affairs have been so disastrous that she's enrolled in a "Survival on the Urban Tundra" class. Despite the instruction, she falls headlong for Nick -- and speaks in narration. "She is impressed," she remarks to a response of his. But the whole enterprise feels cute, lacking weight or malice. This is partly due to Bale's direction -- she zooms through the script -- and partly to the acting. Most of the cast bark out their yearnings to each other and rarely vary their vocalizations: Their comic timing is good, but their roles don't come to life. (Duarte is an exception -- Tori's every rapid shift vibrates with feeling.) The characters lurch in and out of relationships, seemingly without consequence. Nothing resonates but the offbeat humor, and you're left with clever, pat sitcom. Arrivals//Departures doesn't reach its destination.

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Joe Mader


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