Jun 23-Jul 09, 2017
"Baggage" follows two annoying thirty-somethings who accidentally take each other's bags at JFK airport, then - for reasons known only to the playwright - decide to start dating. The title has more than one meaning, referring not only to a mix-up of luggage at the airport, but also the emotional impediments we tend to carry through life. Audiences get bad dates, break-ups, reconciliation - even a shrink peddling his books to them - and the crowd. There's kung pao chicken and the fortune "Stay away from chocolate."
I first read Baggage a year or so ago while looking for a play to direct this year. While I had found a play or two which appealed to me with its insights and thoughtfulness, casting appeared to be problematic. A serious person myself I tend to first consider a play dealing with serious ideas which enrich one's life. Imagine my surprise when I came across this comedy which tickled my funny bone and, at the same time, pointed out the possible folly in approaching everything as rationally as possible. While I am not at all disposed to throw out the baby of rationality along with the bathwater of pomposity, I have found it enriching to be reminded that life is still full of mystery and from the compost heap of leftovers and scraps emerges the richest soil.
|Set & Light Design|
|Stage Manager/Assistant Director|
|Sound & Light Operater|
At its heart, 'Baggage' is a love story
- Mike Cook, Las Cruces Bulletin
The title of the play currently running at Black Box Theatre - "Baggage" - really says it all.
This show, which continues through July 9 at Black Box, 430 N. Main St., is about a mix-up in two strangers' checked bags from a flight they shared, and the burdens each one bears (and bares) in life.
"Baggage" has a simple set, few props and costume changes and only four actors. It's about characters and their relationships and the chemistry among the performers.
The play's director, Nika Zimmer, said that chemistry was evident from the beginning among Debbie Jo Felix (Phyllis), Eric Hadley (Bradley), Scott Brocato (Dr. Alexander) and Heather Castillo (Mitzi).
That, to me, is the mark of a good director = find that center all your actors can work from and let the energy guide your storytelling. Zimmer, a talented actress in her own right, and a delightful person to know and to work with, did just that.
Without revealing too much, "Baggage" is, essentially, a love story.
You can see the arc as Bradley transforms from a broken-hearted weeping whiner into someone who finds what he truly wants in life - he moved from gray to red, as you will see. Likewise, Phyllis evolves from a strong personality looking to mold the perfect mate into someone who has fallen unexpectedly and uncontrollably in love.
Alexander, a psychologist and author, is a most unusual role. In his first scene, he speaks directly to the audience. But then, he becomes a character in the play, and goes back and forth seamlessly. Mitzi provides a bit of comic relief, but is integral to the story as someone who has failed at marriage but will apparently - and quite unexpectedly - succeed in love.
I liked all four of these characters, and I liked what Felix, Hadley, Brocato and Castillo did with them, individually and collectively. This is truly an ensemble piece, and all four actors brought a charming and energetic give and take to their performances. They were, first to last, very human,and I think that's exactly what playwright Sam Bobrick was looking for when he wrote this play in 2008.
I had not seen Felix, Hadley or Brocato on stage before this show.
Castillo was in "Seagulls in a Cherry Tree" - the
previous show at Black Box - and did a great job, just as she did in "Baggage." So did her three castmates. The four have a very interesting mix of previous credits - Hadley's includes both stage and television credits.
Zimmer's directing credits include "Look Homeward, Angel" for Las Cruces Community Theatre and "Enchanted April," "The Spitfire Grill," "The Sisters Rosensweig," "Still Life with Iris," "The Women of Lockerbie" and "Impossible Marriage" for Black Box.
Gorton Smith is "Baggage's" stage manager and assistant director, Lana Eckman is the costume designer, Peter Herman designed the lights and the set and Ceil Herman is the producer. Daniel Caroe is the light and sound board operator.
Remaining performances of "Baggage" are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, June 30-July 1 and July 7-8; at 2:30 p.m.
Sundays, July 2-9; and at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 6.
Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 students and seniors over 65 and $10 for the July 6 performance.
For reservations and more information, call 575-523-1223. Visit https:// no-strings.org/
No seating plan has been posted.