Shooting Star | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Shooting Star

Two people talking about their relationship ain't exactly the freshest thing to come down the theatrical pike

A man and woman who once lived together cross paths at an airport 25 years later ... and wouldn't you know it, but outside a blizzard is settling over the land and flights are canceled. Soon the airport closes down, forcing our ex-lovers to spend the night together. Will they pass the time calling up old memories and making new ones?

This is the premise of Steven Dietz's two-person romantic comedy Shooting Star, now on the boards at South Park Theater. In a way, Dietz's schematic is the best part of the evening. Not that there aren't other rewards, but playwrights are in constant search for a reason why two people with enough shared animosity to be dramatically compelling would also share a stage for two hours. The unforced logic of Dietz's set-up seems so natural it's surprising he's the first playwright I know to have thought it up.

Dramaturgy aside, however, this is a play with two people talking about their relationship ... which ain't exactly the freshest thing to come down the theatrical pike. Dietz, a well-regarded, nationally recognized playwright, does have a sly way with words and peppers the evening with enough moments of cleverly observed insight that Shooting Star isn't quite the festival of banality you'd get from a lesser writer. But — and this hangs over the play like a snow cloud — you're never not aware that you're on some very, very well-trod theatrical ground.

Directed by Allison M. Weakland, the South Park production features Greg Caridi as Reed and Lesa Donati as Elena. They're nimble, intelligent actors — reinforced by Weakland's nimble, intelligent direction — and they create an appropriately baggage-filled history together.

Shooting Star is, however, something of a minefield. In their youthful time together, Reed and Elena were fringe-y, left-leaning iconoclasts who, in the ensuing years, have morphed into disappointed, dour — if not sour — people. Dietz spends far too much stage time running through their list of regrets. Consequently, Caridi and Donati can't help but come across as uninteresting, even unpleasant, characters. By the time the snow does stop, we're all ready to fly away home.

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