Several conservative looking mid-life women score some pot and share it.
I’m not sure why we always find this so funny, but we do. When you think of the popularity of the TV show Weeds, or the scene of Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated, whispering giddily “I’m stoned!” – you smile.
Women of a certain age, with sensible shoes, varicose veins, mortgages and retirement plans hitting the pipe together – it’s just funny.
Perhaps that’s what the playwright Marisa Wegrzyn was counting on when she wrote Mud Blue Sky, and it worked. Opening last night at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley, the play could have been just a fun, silly romp. The teaser sounds like the beginning of a joke: Three stewardesses and a high school pot dealer check into a hotel and. . . but the play, while bitingly witty and laugh-out – loud funny, is much more than a farce.
Mud Blue Sky, set in a hotel room at O’ Hare where three career stewardesses reunite, is filled with poignant moments that force us to think about the things we hold dear. It has ugly moments, revealing the vulnerability we face as we age – our bodies likely to betray us, our employers quick to disown us. And there are poetic moments, moment when I wanted to ask the actors to stop, rewind, and say the lines again. Because they were beautiful.
I’ll see it again. The actor who plays the lost, awkward but endearing, high school senior (who happens to deal weed) is our own Devin O’Brien. Being the proud mom in the audience might have made me a little biased and more likely to cry (have I ever made it through one of his shows without tears?!) But just a little.
I’ve seen the play twice now, and last night I watched and listened keenly not as a mother but as a writer, for the rhythms in language, the reversals in the plot, the surprises from each character, the truths beneath the dialogue.
Wegrzyn is a gifted playwright, able to stretch an unusual but not impossible encounter – three stewardesses and a boy on his prom night – into a heart breaking evening, to make the audience laugh in unison, and then take a collective, sad sigh. To make us think about the meaning of work, identity, and the way our losses shape our future, but don’t have to define it.
Great work, Aurora Theatre, for choosing a complicated and unusual play, and inviting us into the room. And to the four amazing actors and director, take a bow. Mud Blue Sky made me want to fly again.
Here’s a link to get tickets (quickly! They are selling fast!) and a Chronicle review that came out today.
Mud Blue Sky: Comedy. By Marisa Wegrzyn. Directed by Tom Ross. Through Sept. 27. $32-$50. Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley. One hour, 40 minutes. (510) 843-4822. www.auroratheatre.org.