Flight attendants’ lives come to light in ‘Mud Blue Sky’

It’s not all friendly skies for the women of “Mud Blue Sky.”

Marisa Wegrzyn’s comedy, making its Bay Area debut in a wistful, wryly funny Aurora Theatre Company production, reveals the grind beneath the glamour for three middle-aged flight attendants spending a long night’s layover in a Chicago hotel.

As staged by Aurora artistic director Tom Ross, the play hits home before a word is spoken. Beth (Jamie Jones), the first to arrive, makes a weary entrance. The years of long hours, low pay, rude passengers and lodging in unsanitary rooms like this one have left her with a bad back, a cynical outlook and a strong desire not to spend another day at 30,000 feet.

When her peppy co-worker, Sam (Rebecca Dines), suggests a night of bar-hopping, Beth, facing an early-morning flight, says she’s staying in. In truth, she’s about to slip outside to meet Jonathan (Devin S. O’Brien), the teenage pot dealer who provides her with the means to make it through the night (Kate Boyd’s set, Chris Houston’s sound and Kurt Landisman’s lighting encompass the peachy tones of the hotel room and the wind-swept flyover zone of the parking lot.)

Beth tries to keep Jonathan, who’s been supplying her for some time, away from Sam. Eventually, though, Sam comes face to face with him — and is delighted by what she sees. When their friend, former flight attendant Angie (Laura Jane Bailey), arrives with a bottle of cognac, everyone indulges, and the women — each of whom is old enough to be Jonathan’s mother — begin to realize how much of life they’ve missed.

Sam regrets leaving her own son home alone for days at a time. Angie, who was fired for being overweight, is haunted by a past encounter with a passenger. Jonathan, meanwhile, has issues of his own. As each character confronts a future of lost connections and narrowing choices, Wegrzyn’s script acquires a surprising measure of depth.

The actors, aptly costumed by Cassandra Carpenter, keep the laughs coming while shading the script’s increasingly darker notes. Jones is especially strong as the sharp-tongued Beth, who desperately wants out of the life she’s made but can’t seem to make the leap. Dines is a magnetic, live-wire Sam. O’Brien gives Jonathan’s deadpan exterior a sensitive inner core, and Bailey is a refreshingly down-to-earth Angie.

“Mud Blue Sky” isn’t a great play, but Ross and his cast get a lot of mileage from its ups and downs.


Mud Blue Sky
Presented by Aurora Theatre Company

Where: 2081 Addison St., Berkeley
When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Sept. 27
Tickets: $32 to $50
Contact: (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org

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