If you have ever done a play before, you will likely remember the days following the last curtain as either a time of great relief (if the show was a horrible experience) or one of great sorrow (reserved for those shows that really spoke to you.) My last curtain fell on Sunday and still, my mind drifts back to the play. My brain is happily letting go of the insane amount of lines, but the memories of the show have etched themselves firmly in place.
Just like a good book hangover, a good play can linger inside the mind. While Shooting Star was a play designed for a woman a few years older than me, more extroverted than me and far more free-spirited than me, I knew I had to do it. Granted, I had my doubts that I’d be able to pull a role of this magnitude off, which you can read about here, but the script…man, that script was just too good to pass up. There aren’t many plays (or books or movies for that matter) for this middle stage of life, and few that capture how we deal with things that happened in our past quite so well. The play was funny, poignant, and for me, made me think a lot about the choices we make and how we deal with them.
For those unfamiliar with the play, it’s a two-person play. A former couple who reunite at an airport that gets snowed in, some twenty-five years after their breakup. They ended their relationship on a sour note, and now they have roughly twenty hours stuck at the same gate together. What do you say to the person who broke your heart? To the man she’d gone to therapy for over for years? To the woman he hated because she insisted on an open relationship? Truths were told, the ugly ones that no one has the guts to admit, reconnections were made, and ultimately, conflicts resolved. The play does not end with them together, but stronger now that they have forgiven each other for past mistakes. It’s a gut-wrenching show about how we deal with the things we don’t have the courage to say and what happens when we do.
Often times, when Nathan and I would come out after the curtain to greet the audience, we noticed that they had tears in their eyes. They longed for the picture-perfect ending but fully understood why it was denied them. That’s life. It’s messy, complicated, and our choices dictate the path we go down. Learning to embrace the road you’ve chosen is not easy sometimes, even if it is the right road to be on. For me, the play had a happy ending, even if they didn’t end up together. They grew. They let go of past hurt and they were able to be fully present for their kids. The audience knew it was the right road for both of them, and yet, they were still sad that those two couldn’t make it work. I’ll miss that…being able to make an audience experience emotions they weren’t prepared to feel. I’ll miss our cast and crew who knew the power this show held.
The play would make a wonderful book or movie. Bittersweet. A thinker. I suppose that’s why it’s still with me. Great writing can do that.
So, thank you, Steven Dietz, for the opportunity to explore Elena and Reed. I hope we did them the justice they deserved.