“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
The Filigree Theatre out of Austin, Texas, brings Lila Rose Kaplan’s new play, 100 Planes, to The Broadwater’s intimate Black Box Theatre in Hollywood for its West Coast Premiere. This ambitious show boasts a cast of four and a story line that includes romance, light comedy, intimate drama and two interwoven story threads, all in eighty-minutes or so.
To begin at the beginning…it is 1997, and two people meet at a tenth anniversary high school reunion. Kay (Alani Rose Chock) has stepped outside for a smoke when David (Brennan Patrick) comes out to chat her up. Kay has a closed-up shyness that pushes off David’s light-hearted banter. It is soon revealed that he has been carrying a torch for her since their school days. He has a job as a TV weatherman with all the good looks and suave demeanor such a role requires. But he is not the lightweight arrogant type. No, his heart is pure, and he soon woos Kay out of her protective shell.
Kay is an Air Force lieutenant with an ambition to become a fighter pilot. She is a strack, by-the-book, yes-sir type. The budding romance goes on hold when she must report to Germany. David writes short affectionate letters; she responds with lists.
Kay’s immediate superior, Major Anne Clarkson (Karen Harrison), frustrated in her desire to fly, grooms new young women to shatter that particular glass ceiling. Kay is a hotshot type, a female Tom Cruise, if you will, who is ambitious to fly a new plane, a transport fighter, and for the stiff, bitter Major, this is her shot. If she can’t be what she had wanted, this girl is the surrogate, her ticket to accomplishment. The major is in a closeted relationship with Monique DuPont (Brittany Flurry), the colonel’s executive secretary by day, and bar pianist at night. Their protestations of love are brittle, and frustration lurks.
David’s appearance as a journalist at the air base in Germany is the catalyst that turns the light dark, and rockets the drama to a climax without dénouement.
Ms. Chock and Mr. Patrick develop a terrific, fraught intimacy that is honest and affecting. Patrick has a shining charisma that comes across without affectation. Chock’s closed up, yearning demeanor, touches the heart. Ms. Harrison’s sternness gives way to a certain softness with her partner, but it is clear that her career is the top priority. As played by Ms. Flurry, Monique displays the signs of budding, bitter unhappiness. Indeed, her first appearance, standing at the piano, is at lights up, showing a stark face just before a rapid blackout.
Director Elizabeth V. Newman keeps the pace brisk, and I greatly appreciate the necessary choreography that the cast effects as they shoved and carried props and scenery. The way Ms. Chock handles the metal table is awesome. Since the space and action requires a minimum of scenery, Chris Conar’s design of both set and lighting works very well. I appreciated the seemingly hundreds of big paper airplanes that festooned the space. Eliot Gray Fisher is sound designer; Jennifer Rose Davis is costume designer (terrific shoes for Mr. Patrick!); and Sally Seitz manages with precision.
The Filigree Theatre’s presentation of 100 Planes, produced by Stephanie Moore, runs through August 4 at The Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood.