“Guess it’s too late to say the things to you that you needed to hear me say. Saw a shooting star tonight slip away.” Bob Dylan wrote those words quoted in Steven Dietz’s program notes for a production of his play Shooting Star at City Theatre. And Dietz glowingly pursues such a trajectory about two people who went into different directions after shining years together as lovers. Meanwhile the heavens turn white with snow binding them into a new and ultimately revealing encounter.
With such elements and wonderful writing Dietz has created a marvelously funny, insightful, very human work, expanding on the universal nature of what can happen when such separate orbits coincide. Moreover he inventively incorporates meaningful recurring motives and trenchant symbols. These two people, Reed and Elena, revisit what they did and did not do in the 1970s in their youthful, idealistic, unconventional years, while midway in visits elsewhere, stranded in a corner of a shut-down airport.
Given when Reed and Elena hung together, Dietz finds legitimate humor in evoking the naïveté of the time. You know, man, the recognition bit. And, gradually, subtly, he moves on to getting more serious about these people’s sorrows and joys, their certainties and uncertainties, evoking sincere, touching moments. Yet unpredictable reality lies inside the walls and waits outside that waiting room.
Andrew May superbly gets across Reed’s many emotional shifts, unspoken undercurrents and thoughtful intelligence. And, as Elena, Pittsburgh’s Laurie Klatscher expertly conveys the woman’s still youthful innocence and tender vulnerability. Meanwhile director Tracy Brigden has moved them, stimulated them and prompted them to make this all genuine, even though Dietz breaks the fourth wall, having them talk up close and personally to the audience.
Tony Ferrieri’s convincing, deliberately dreary set excellently reminds us of such transient environments where we hide behind magazines, distract ourselves with electronic diversions and paper bag fast food, sometimes commiserating with people we don’t expect to ever see again. You know those generic places of arrivals and departures which we reluctantly accept, looking forward moving on to where we think things will be better, even when they turn out not to be as marvelous as we had hoped.
Laugh at our foibles and foolishness and attend the truth.
Shooting Star keeps on going through May 16th at City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, South Side 412/ 431 CITY (2489). www.citytheatrecompany.org