Charlene Baldridge | Theater Review
San Diego theatregoers are familiar with playwright Marisa Wegrzyn through her comic plays “The Butcher of Baraboo,” “Ten Cent Night” and “Hickorydickory.” She possesses a hoydenish feminist voice, almost as if she were skipping through a field with her characters, playing kick the can and hurling pebbles loosened from the rocks of their lives. The characters, female and male, in her most recent play, “Mud Blue Sky,” are utterly endearing, not for their wisdom but for their denials and their destructive human behavior. Each lies about his or her life experience and aspirations, and at the end of the 90-minute act, we are empathetic about their pasts and hopeful for their futures.
Playing at Moxie Theatre through June 8, “Mud Blue Sky” concerns three flight attendants of a certain age and a teenage boy. It is set in a hotel near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Of the two “stews” still working, Beth (DeAnna Driscoll) dreams of taking that meager early retirement package and starting a microbrewery in her home. She also has a pot habit and Jonathan (J. Tyler Jones), her Chicago supplier, arrives to provide service dressed in an outlandish tuxedo for his high school prom. His date, the popular, beautiful and unseen Molly, has ditched him. Though Beth just wants to settle in and smoke a joint, Sam (Jo Anne Glover) tries to persuade her to go out drinking with former flight attendant Angie (Melissa Fernandes), who was fired, put on a lot of weight, and then divorced.
First two, then three, then all the characters wind up in the hotel room, which has its own seedy character of a sort especially repugnant to the squeamish Beth. More pot and a bottle of cognac come into play as does a bit of cougar activity with Jonathan. Libido isn’t the only thing unleashed: Reality and truth rise, along with hopelessness. Empathy ensues. We leave feeling more than a glimmer of hope.
Moxie Associate Artistic Director Jennifer Eve Thorn, surely among San Diego’s best and most insightful, stages “Mud Blue Sky” upon Maria Bane’s meticulously designed and appointed set (Angelica Ynfante is properties designer), the largest portion devoted to the grubby hotel room and the smaller portion revealing a chain-link fence and weeds. Here, Matt Lescault-Wood’s sound design becomes a character of its own, and Sherrice Kelly’s lighting sings of future possibilities.
The detail of each character’s story is revealed only gradually, and one can think of no better actors for the roles. Jones, who was seen most recently in Intrepid Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” is an expressive and generous young artist, who conveys depth and naiveté simultaneously.
What company the young actor keeps! One cannot imagine better distaff to embody the broken and wounded women. Each portrayal is an acting lesson in subtlety, individual fullness and exquisite, truthful and aching comedy. It may be a “girl” thing. The play seemed especially perfect for Mother’s Day. Attendance is recommended.