Boston actors Leigh Barrett, Adrianne Krstansky, and Deb Martin sit close together during a rehearsal break for “Mud Blue Sky,” which opens Sunday in Deane Hall at the Boston Center for the Arts. The proximity encourages conversation, but it’s also a byproduct of the play’s setting, in which all of the action takes place in a cramped hotel room.
“Like every hotel room, it’s dominated by the bed,” says Barrett. “That creates some interesting obstacles when you want to move away.”
“The confined space forces you to interact,” says Martin. “There’s nowhere to run.”
“It also explores the long-time friendship between women,” says Krstansky. “Their banter is snarky and loving because they have a sisterly bond.”
The hotel room is the place where three flight attendant friends find themselves during a layover. It’s late at night, and as they while away the time talking about the many layovers they’ve experienced during their long careers, their evening becomes complicated by the arrival of one of the women’s 17-year-old pot dealer. Jonathan has arrived directly from his prom in order to accommodate one of his best customers, and as he stands at the edge of decisions that could set the stage for decades to come, he makes the three friends think about the impact of the career decisions they made a few decades earlier.
The play, by Marisa Wegrzyn, is a bit of “Three Sisters” mixed with “No Exit,” the actors say.
“There’s this Chekhovian thing where they argue endlessly about the most unimportant things, and barely react to issues that can totally change their world,” says Krstansky. In a way, she says, they are finally confronted with the possibility that they chose careers as flight attendants to escape their lives.
“I think they are realizing the consequences of the decisions they made when they were Jonathan’s age,” says Martin. “They aren’t 17 anymore and as women, they don’t have the same options men have.”
The script, says Barrett, who is best known for her musical theater work, reminds her of Stephen Sondheim.
“He writes for a thinking actor,” says Barrett. “There are layers and levels, and the issues aren’t always clearly defined. This script is the same: It’s fast, it’s funny, but there’s lots of stuff going on under the surface.”
Kaya Simmons, the Northeastern University student who plays Jonathan, is relatively new to theater, and says he was initially intimidated by the talented women he was working with.
“I have learned so much from watching them work,” he says. “I am majoring in sociology and economics with a minor in theater, but acting is the most creative and imaginative thing I’ve done in college. Being so honest and true onstage is incredibly rewarding.”
All the actors agree that despite the fast-paced banter, there’s a poignancy in Wegrzyn’s script that makes her characters so appealing.
“Jonathan has this yearning to be wanted,” says Simmons. “It’s something these women recognize, not only in this teenager but in themselves, too.”
Creative insights from KAPOW
Theatre KAPOW from Manchester, N.H., will be in residence at Charlestown Working Theater May 19-21, developing a new work called “Raining Aluminum.” This devised piece of theater brings together two historic story lines, the American relief efforts in response to a 1917 maritime explosion in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that killed 2,000 people, and the Canadian response to 9/11.
Each day of the residency will be devoted to a different element of the creative process: Renowned Prince Edward Island fiddler Cynthia MacLeod will perform some of the music she is preparing for the play (May 19); Vit Horejs, artistic director of the Czechoslovak American Marionette Theatre, will discuss the importance of objects in the production, including two marionettes carved in Prague (May 20); Theatre KAPOW will train members of the public in its performance techniques, which include acting, movement, and improvisation (May 21 at 10 a.m.); Horejs will tell Czech and Slovak tales using marionettes, for ages 7-12 (May 21 at 2 p.m.); dramaturg Kelly Smith and KAPOW artistic director Matt Cahoon will explain how the text for the show was shaped from interviews, found text, and original writing (May 21, 7:30 p.m.).
“Raining Aluminum” will have its world premiere later this summer. For information, call 617-242-3285 or go to www.charlestownworkingtheater.org.
‘We’re Gonna Die’ hits the road
Company One Theatre is taking its production of “We’re Gonna Die” on the road for six performances in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The pop-rock cabaret, recently presented at Oberon in Cambridge, features Obehi Janice backed by a four-piece band singing and talking about life, its limitations, and the power of community. The show will be performed Friday at the Dudley Cafe, 15 Warren St., Roxbury ($15); Saturday at Zumix, 260 Sumner St., East Boston ($15); Sunday at the Design Studio for Social Intervention, 1946 Washington St., Roxbury (free community youth performance); May 18 at AS220, 115 Empire St., Providence ($15); May 20 at the Luna Theater, 250 Jackson St., Lowell ($13-$15); and May 21 at Urbano Project, 29 Germania St., Jamaica Plain ($15). For more information, go to www.companyone.org.
MUD BLUE SKY
Presented by Bridge Repertory Theatre. At Deane Hall, Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, May 15-June 5. Tickets: $32, 617-933-8600, www.bostontheatrescene.com
Terry Byrne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.