Beneath a Hackneyed Plot, Fireworks of Talent in Shooting Star

Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.

For Shooting Star, the two-person play now running at WaterTower Theatre in Addison, playwright Steven Dietz resorted to the old "stuckinna" plot trick. Take two characters, get them stuck somewhere -- in this case, a snowed-in airport -- and watch what happens over 90 minutes until they get un-stuck. Not a whole lot does happens here, it turns out. Just a brief reunion of two middle-aged people who once were in love but whose lives have taken them in places neither anticipated.

Elena, played by Diana Sheehan (Dallas theater's version of Allison Janney), is an aging hippie, draped in layers of fringes and velvets. Reed, played by James Crawford (Dallas theater's version of John Lithgow), is an uptight sales exec, hustling deals at the expense of time with his wife and teenage daughter. They were live-in lovers back at University of Wisconsin in the 1970s, but they didn't get married. They both moved on.

Marooned by a blizzard in the same airport lounge 25 years since they last saw each other, Elena and Reed catch up on old times and, after some late-night drinks, feel a hint of the attraction that brought them together as 20-somethings. It's a Lifetime channel brand of romantic comedy, but Crawford and Sheehan give their characters nice depth. Both actors are experts at the subtle comic nuances that a play like this needs to make it believable. Their awkward make-out scene is funny, sexy and sad at the same time.

If you still have a flicker of passion burning for the boyfriend or girlfriend you had in college and wonder what might happen if you ever saw him or her again, Shooting Star might answer some questions. Or just provide a pleasant 90 minutes of diversion from real life thanks to some dandy acting by its talented stars.

Shooting Star continues through June 26 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Rd., Addison. Call 972-450-6232.

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