A Life in a Day: Lucky Lindy, by Dick D. Zigun. Directed by John Sowle. Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
Caedmon Holland, Steven Patterson, Molly Parker Myers; photo: John Sowle
"The gap between"
"The sky is blue, and high above. . ." begins a Sigmund Romberg song from the early years of the 20th century. It could easily be the opener for this silly piece of theater being presented by the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill, New York. Three actors take on approximately one hundred roles including a dog and an airplane in a 96 minutes two-act play that tells the entire story of a life, the life of Charles Lindbergh, from pre-birth to death. In 33 and a half scenes (the basic length of his historic flight to Paris in the 1920s) the man is under a microscope and yet is kept at arms length. He is brought close and yet kept a distant figure whose personal growth is never part of the story.
Perhaps this is because Lindbergh, Lucky Lindy as he was dubbed by a tin-pan-alley pundit, never opened himself to his public. He remained a distant figure through heroic triumphs and agonizing humiliations, through ticker-tape parades, Nazi sympathy, and the trial of his child's murdering kidnapper. It is this very quality in the man that allows each of the three actors in this production to play him at different points in his life, sometimes sharing him among themselves during a single incident in time.
The play is a quirky vaudeville of a play. Ultimately it makes little sense of the man who is most often represented as an airplane and not as a person (shades of "Doonesbury"). The distancing within the lines of the script make him into a more curious figure than he may have been in life. We learn salient facts but never move past them into the anticipated soul or preempted heart of the human being who must have been Lindbergh. The play never tries to find the man, just to use his life's moments to illuminate those moments themselves and these illuminations are dim-bulbed and add nothing to the legend of lucky Lindy.
Director and designer John Sowle has kept the show lively and fun and even intriguing which is a definite plus in a play that disengages its audience. We laugh, cheer, sing-along, and applaud the director and his cast of three throughout the fast-paced event but at the end of the show we are not inclined to hang around, meet the company and take part in the reliving of the experience. It is hard to say that this is a rewarding theatrical experience as much as we can say it is an experience unique among theatre outings.
Steven Patterson is both engaging and disengaging throughout the play, often responsible for the drowning of moments, objects and aspirations. He undertakes the difficult role of Lindy's disagreeable father, the remarkably disgruntled Mayor of Paris and other, similar figures. He does all of his roles with alacrity and with a charmless sense of disgust at the way the world transforms reality.
His counterpoint is Molly Parker Myers' narrative voice. She tells stories, plays roles, adapts herself into male and female parts with equal sincerity. She has a twinkle that manages to be displayed at odd moments in the story and as she moves from one place in time to another she, and she alone, seems to represent the time of the scene, the past, the more recent past, and the very recent past. Her physicality and her vocal interpretations move us through the play with a patent brilliance that is lovely to behold.
As everyone else in the play Caedmon Holland displays talent and diversity and a delicious sense of humor as he morphs into just about everything including a German fraulein at a political time of unrest in Europe. In the Bridge Street Theatre Cabaret space his performance is a large one and an appreciated one. He is a talented man with a future in plays that will give him an opportunity to explore a role and to grow with it. Obviously sketch comedy is also his current forte.
This is a weird event, one worth seeing, but don't forget to bring your sing-along voice and your enthusiasm for the nuttiness of sketch comedy plays. And if you find you absolutely hate the piece it will be over in 96 minutes and you can live out the rest of your day, or life, in relative calm knowing this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A Life in a Day: Lucky Lindy plays through April 24 at the Bridge Street Theatre, 44 West Bridge Street, Catskill, NY. For information and tickets go to www.bridgest.org or call 518-943-3818 or visit brownpapertickets.com.