By: Sandi Durell
Ray and Jane Deluso might seem pretty much like any middle class family until the effects of losing a loved profession unravel lives, and obsessions reveal. In John S. Anastasi’s dramedy, Ray and his then best buddy Buzz are in the throes of the1981 conflict of Regan’s decision to fire any air traffic controllers who strike (it’s a Federal crime for them to walk out) and 11,000 + were left jobless when he kept his promise. As the play lurches forward, Ray has been enraged at the President and viscerally effected for now 23 years; blindsided by his hatred for Ronald Regan, the man he blames for his professional demise. Buzz, however, stood firm on the side of the law and Ray has all but dismissed him from his life.
Making this monumental decision to strike, Ray, a decorated Vietnam vet who saved Buzz’ life in the war, has to find other work, eventually as a contractor/builder, losing the career he loved, the long time friendship with Buzz, and the money and security it would have brought to his family. Instead, his guilt allows him to enable daughter Tess to pursue a non-existent acting career, rather than a “real” job, and Jane, Ray’s wife, has gone back to work as a teacher to help support the family. Jane is hard working, loves Ray but, through the years, maintained her friendship with Buzz (Robert Emmet Lunney), a well grounded nice guy. The infrequent meetings between Buzz and Ray are akin to fire and water.
PJ Benjamin plays the unyielding, confused and obsessed Ray who begins to believe Jane must be having an affair with Buzz. Patricia Richardson as Jane, is a pragmatic, down to earth woman who sees life’s realities for what they are as she continues to love and support her husband emotionally, hoping to bring the once friends back together. However, continuing frustrations with Ray lead down a disastrous path. When daughter Tess announces she’s been dating Buzz’ legal-beagle son David, sparks fly in all directions as Ray ignites with anger and the old hatred of his one-time friend Buzz, as a scab, surfaces.
Tess is played by Danielle Faitelson who gives an honest portrayal as a young “it’s all about me” generation 26 year old, pushing the boundaries on her Daddy-Daughter relationship.
Ray lives in a world of the past as he disappears into his own reverie as an air traffic controller up, up and away in the attic, forced to face the truth as he and his family begin to unravel.
Charles Abbott directs somewhat unevenly, the reveal and serious intent of the play occuring in Act II. So you’ll need to hang in for any kind of payoff.
*Photos: Carol Rosegg
“I Forgive You, Ronald Regan” can be seen at the Beckett Theatre (Theater Row), 410 W. 42nd St., NYC thru August 25th. 212 239-6200 www.telecharge.com