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A CurtainUp Review
Oliver (Richard Kind) finds himself at the home of Ted (Kevin Geer) and his wife Lianne (Donna Bullock). Ted was a bully, and the bane of the smarter but more timid Oliver's high school existence. Twenty-five years later, they seem to be trying to find some sort of common ground. While Oliver bears Ted no lasting ill will for his long ago bullying, it does have its lasting effect so it's unlikely he can ever be really comfortable around his old tormentor. Ted obviously resents Oliver's success and is jealous of the fact that he managed to escape their town. When, after a few drinks, Iris (Michele Pawk), another old classmae, joins them. Oliver lets slip he had a crush on her in high school and it turns out that Ted and Iris have conspired to turn his openness and willingness to let bygones be forgotten against him.
Sweet seems to have intended the play's ending moments to be optimistic, but I found the central theme depressing: people don't change; that bully in high school will always be a mean-spirited bully . . . if you leave home, you'll never fit in there again. Kevin Geer as Ted and Michele Pawk as Iris seem to feel this way too. Their portrayals are steeped in bitterness and thinly-disguised regret. Richard Kind as Oliver seems almost willfully blind to Ted and Iris's shortcomings. In the end, we see this more as acceptance. He knows his place in the world, and he knows deep down that Ted remains who he always was. Since he then puts his trust and his hope in Iris, let's all hope she doesn't let him down.
Sandy Shinner's direction is simple and evocative, as are Robin Paterson's sets. Jeffrey Sweet's script is overly fond of pointing out in various subtle ways that Oliver doesn't belong in Ohio and never will. The fact that Richard Kind's Oliver knows this, and doesn't seem upset by it makes for a strange dichotomy. Oddly, it works, at least half the time.
Flyovers doesn't address any of the larger issues that crop up (anti-intellectualism and anti-Semitism are the two most obvious). However, it's a quietly meaty play with plenty of food for thought and a chance to see actors often seen on Broadway as close as if they were in your living room in a theater where the cost of admission is under twenty dollars.