If the B Street Theatre's current production, “Mud Blue Sky,” were a cocktail, the preparation would go something like this: take three 50-ish flight attendants, in the twilight of their airline careers, making an overnight layover in a cheap airport motel. They’re tired and they're bored.
Add a teenage guy in a tuxedo. He’s just been dumped by his prom date, and he’s come to the motel to sell one of the flight attendants some pot.
Then stir in a bottle of expensive cognac that just happens to be handy.
Soon the three actresses establish a natural conversational routine (as old friends do), and the high school boy selling pot (played by Alexander Pannullo, looking cute) more than holds his own, as director Lyndsay Burch guides them through this amiable – if planless – little evening party.
The substance-imbued conversation wanders onto rich and famous people that the flight attendants have met, or at least glimpsed – like a brief encounter with music legend Stevie Wonder on a flight. Flight attendant Beth (played by Jamie Jones) states the obvious: “He’s blind. And he’s great. I got his autograph.” – and then adds with disappointment that because Stevie Wonder can’t see, his autograph was “indecipherable,” which fits in with the random course of events.
There’s something indecipherably sad, yet very believable, about these middle-aged women hanging out and partying with a kid young enough to be their son. And the sadness deepens when they discuss the buyout offer from their airline, which is getting less generous by the minute. The guaranteed pay keeps shrinking, the health benefits are getting cut.
Flight attendant Beth daydreams about quitting the airline and starting a boutique brewery, but she admits she doesn’t know anything about making beer. She really doesn’t know what to do next. Fellow flight attendant Angie (Tara Sissom) suggests “You can do anything!” and then adds “That’s the hard part – the ‘anything’ part.”
Indeed, these women could try and do something. But really, they haven’t got a clue what they want to do next week, or next year. They just know they have to wake up at 4 a.m. and work a pre-dawn flight. That makes for some gallows humor amidst the mental haze when another flight attendant, Sam (Elisabeth Nunziato), observes bleakly: “Did you ever hear the one about the flight attendant who reeks of pot, because she’s in this room, and she’s you?”
I laughed at that line, but it also made me wince. These rudderless characters are comic and pathetic at the same time. Their lives aren’t heroic in the least, but their oddly aimless story nonetheless feels like a sadly candid, honest slice of life.
“Mud Blue Sky” continues at the B Street Theater in Sacramento through June 5.
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