AIRPORT ENCOUNTERS: BRACE FOR IMPACT!

Let’s face it. It’s easier to deal with heavy traffic then catching a flight at LAX. No one pats you down. No one asks you to remove your shoes. No one gets into your business. Then 9/11 happened and the game changed for the better and definitely for the worse. In Airport, the cast of characters, written by the brilliant minds of Elayne Heilveil, Mark Harvey Levine, Scott Mullen, Beth Polsky, Jessica Rowe and Rom Watson, delve into the funny and dramatic experiences at Encounter Airlines. Fly at your own peril!

A couple turn from strangers to an amorous pair in “Ordained.” Sharon a newly ordained minister, courtesy of angleicministry.com, heavily insists on marrying strangers Gary and Abby (Jerry Weil and Tracy Winters). Abby is headed back to Chicago and Gary returns to Indiana. Sharon casually asks if they are both single. Yes, they reply. From there, Sharon marries them. Gary and Abby are looking at Sharon as if she lost her damn mind. She’s not listening to the “new” couple that they don’t wish to marry. Sharon takes that as cold feet. In the end, the married couple decide to give it a try and exchange phone numbers, emails and kisses. I guess Sharon knows a couple when she spots it.

Two scientists and their robots in “Charlie” meet at a nerd conference. Soon, the make a greater love connection bigger than themselves. Charlie (Anthony Marquez) is sweet and cute. His creator David (David St. James) tests his latest project to remove the kinks and future problemations. At the conference, they meet robotics engineer Violet (Valerie Gould) and her creation Marcie (Abby Kamaraad-Campbell). Marcie is beautiful and is fluent in many languages. She and Charlie do a tango where Marcie showcases her flexibility. Charlie often tells David that “you need to take care of yourself and find a mate.” At first, David dismisses it and reprograms Charlie. But, when he meets attractive looking Violet, he has second thoughts. Charlie and Violet are programmed to tell the truth and they both reveals personal items about their makers. That’s when David tries to override Charlie but Charlie figured it out on how to prevent that and tells Violet the secret. Robotic or not, love does find a way into the human or newly formed heart.

On another more modern tale is “My Cell Phone Says You’re My Soulmate.” Max’s (Marquez doing another great job) cell leads him to his ideal woman—possibly. Max’s GPS leads him to Celeste (Cassidy Davis) where he professes his undying love. She’s looking at him as if he’s lost it and cavalierly responds with “Does that line work for you?” Again, breaking his fragile heart she says, “I don’t love you,” and he causally responds with “These things take time.” He is overly excited in meeting his soulmate even if Celeste isn’t feeling it. She strongly suggests that her sister Jane is better suited for the overly excitable Romeo.

“Till Death Do Us Part” is about a threesome falling apart. Mary Jane and Billy Joe (Connie Monroe and Jason Paul Evans are rocking hilarious it hurts to laugh) just get hitched and are on their way to honeymoon in the Grand Canyon. They have their first fight as a couple and in the middle is an older gentlemen (Davis St. James once again killing it) in crutches trying to stay out of their loud conversation but gets dragged in. Mary Jane is mad that the metal detector went off because of the underwire in her bra. Earlier, her mother was taken to the hospital for a triple by-pass surgery from the huge pastrami sandwich she had at the reception. It doesn’t get any more white trash than this story.

Bringing out their more warrior sides in full display are Kate Hughes and Hannah Grisby (Tracy Elliot and Starina Johnson) in “Ninjas” wheretwo former high schoolmates connect. Hannah talks about her work with Doctors without Borders and Kate is a novelist. They reminisce about their time in high school. Hannah goes more in-depth revealing a long-time secret that Kate always knew about. 

Soon-to-be parents Charlie and Angela (Spencer Kramber and Sheila Daley) are both excited and nervous about their new arrival in “Three Syllables of Shame.” If only they can think of a name that would represent their bundle of joy well. And it must have three syllables. From Shakespearian names (Rosaline, Lysander) to prescriptions medications (Vicodin) to mouthwash (Listerine). Talk about having way too many options.

What’s a mother to do when she’s told that her future son will bring destruction and chaos? In the sci-fi time travel story “I Wish You Had Never Been Born” Quinn, (Julie Lippert) is in that predicament. She is in total disbelief and thinks the messenger Ryan (Jennifer Cheung) needs a serious wardrobe change if she’s going to roll up on her with that line of nonsense.  

Who doesn’t need, or for the rest of us who are starved for it, a little love? Everyone one needs someone or something to love. For one traveler that is Henry, her emotional support animal. As the passenger tries to board, she is stopped by TSA worker Daphne (Joan Kubicek was hysterical as the indifferent employee). She calmly tells the woman that she cannot board the duck. After a few minutes of disagreements, Henry gets the okay to board much to Daphne’s chagrin. Kubicek shows up in earlier stories providing a damn good straight-face to the chaos surrounding her. She’s cool and collected. You sense that all he wants to do is go home drink a chilled tall glass of a Mojito and take a nap soon after.

God bless the many directors: June Carryl, David Bickford, Valerie Gould, Joe Ochman, Richard Pierce, Matthew Singletary and Lauren Smerkanich, for taking on the feat in executing the individual stories and forming them into one cohesive piece. It was funny, dramatic, laugh out loud crazy and warm–hearted. A great show to take your mind off the craziness of today’s world. Everyone can relate to waiting around the airport wishing the nightmare would end and we can take off with ease. I’m just saying!

Airport Encounters: Brace for Impact plays Fridays and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. until Sunday, February 24th, at The Lounge Theatre, located in 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. For ticket information, log on to www.neoensembletheatre.org


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