The Layover

Layover Second Stage QUINCY DUNN-BAKER (Kevin/Arno) Also at Second Stage: Trust and Wildflower (2ST Uptown). Off-Broadway: By The Water (MTC), The Wayside Motor Inn (Signature, Drama Desk Award), The Forest (Classic Stage Company), The Good Negro (The Public), The First Breeze of Summer (Signature), Romeo and Juliet (The Public/NYSF) and Mr. Marmalade (Roundabout) Regional: Magnetic North (Portland Stage), A Streetcar Named Desire (Triad Stage), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Germany/ Switzerland), Deathtrap and Murder on the Nile (Dorset Theater). TV: “Chicago Med,” “The Blacklist,” “ Dead-Beat,” “The Following,” "Blue Bloods,” "A Gifted Man,” "Law & Order: SVU," "Law & Order: CI," "Nurse Jackie," "CSI:NY," "As The World Turns," "One Life To Live," "Guiding Light”. Film: Cigarette Soup, Draft Day, The Word, The Big Wedding, Hannah Has A Ho Phase, Teleglobal Dreamin' (SXSW), and Sister. BFA, The North Carolina School of the Arts. ARICA HIMMEL (Lily) age 11, Arica is honored to be making her off-Broadway debut in The Layover. A native New Yorker, Arica is a pianist and aspiring filmmaker. She's an avid reader and baker. Arica began training at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre at age ten. ANNIE PARISSE (Shellie). Second Stage: Becky Shaw (Lortel Nom.). Broadway: Clybourne Park, Prelude to a Kiss. Select Off-Broadway: Antlia Pneumatica, All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, The Internationalist (Drama Desk Nom.) , Monster, and The Credeaux Canvas. TV: “Vinyl,” “The Following,” “Law & Order," "Rubicon," “House of Cards,” "The Big C," "Person of Interest," and "Unforgettable". Film: Anesthesia, And So it Goes, Wild Canaries, Price Check, One for the Money among others. Member: AEA. JOHN PROCACCINO(Fred) Broadway: Our Mother’s Brief Affair and An Enemy of the People (MTC), A Time to Kill, An American Daughter, A Thousand Clowns, Conversations with My Father, Art. Off-Broadway: Love and Information (NY

 

 

by Michael Bracken

 

 

Thank God for chemistry. As embodied by Annie Parisse and Adam Rothenberg in The Layover, at Second Stage Theater, the Tony Kiser Theatre,  it keeps Leslye Headland’s puzzling play at a more than comfortable cruising altitude while Shellie (Parisse) and Dex (Rothenberg) are grounded at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The combustion they fuel emits its fair share of sparks as it powers them from airplane to terminal to airport hotel room. They charm the audience as much as they charm each other. We feel they belong together, and we’re happy when that’s where they end up, even if it’s only for the night.

Then chemistry gives way to physics, and what goes up must come down. But does it have to come down with such a crashing thud?

Back in their native habitats, surrounded by toxic sycophants, Shellie and Dex inhabit different worlds. For him it’s his fiancée’s apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; for her a modest house in Kankakee, Illinois. In her kitchen sits Fred (John Procaccino), her crotchety, disabled father, who has seizures with some frequency, and her lowlife husband, Kevin (Quincy Dunn-Baker), who steals and sells his father-in-law’s medication.

 

Layover Second Stage QUINCY DUNN-BAKER (Kevin/Arno) Also at Second Stage: Trust and Wildflower (2ST Uptown). Off-Broadway: By The Water (MTC), The Wayside Motor Inn (Signature, Drama Desk Award), The Forest (Classic Stage Company), The Good Negro (The Public), The First Breeze of Summer (Signature), Romeo and Juliet (The Public/NYSF) and Mr. Marmalade (Roundabout) Regional: Magnetic North (Portland Stage), A Streetcar Named Desire (Triad Stage), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Germany/ Switzerland), Deathtrap and Murder on the Nile (Dorset Theater). TV: “Chicago Med,” “The Blacklist,” “ Dead-Beat,” “The Following,” "Blue Bloods,” "A Gifted Man,” "Law & Order: SVU," "Law & Order: CI," "Nurse Jackie," "CSI:NY," "As The World Turns," "One Life To Live," "Guiding Light”. Film: Cigarette Soup, Draft Day, The Word, The Big Wedding, Hannah Has A Ho Phase, Teleglobal Dreamin' (SXSW), and Sister. BFA, The North Carolina School of the Arts. ARICA HIMMEL (Lily) age 11, Arica is honored to be making her off-Broadway debut in The Layover. A native New Yorker, Arica is a pianist and aspiring filmmaker. She's an avid reader and baker. Arica began training at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre at age ten. ANNIE PARISSE (Shellie). Second Stage: Becky Shaw (Lortel Nom.). Broadway: Clybourne Park, Prelude to a Kiss. Select Off-Broadway: Antlia Pneumatica, All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, The Internationalist (Drama Desk Nom.) , Monster, and The Credeaux Canvas. TV: “Vinyl,” “The Following,” “Law & Order," "Rubicon," “House of Cards,” "The Big C," "Person of Interest," and "Unforgettable". Film: Anesthesia, And So it Goes, Wild Canaries, Price Check, One for the Money among others. Member: AEA. JOHN PROCACCINO(Fred) Broadway: Our Mother’s Brief Affair and An Enemy of the People (MTC), A Time to Kill, An American Daughter, A Thousand Clowns, Conversations with My Father, Art. Off-Broadway: Love and Information (NY

 

Dex is greeted by his fiancée, Andrea (Amelia Workman), an attractive, self-centered harpy in killer heels and an off-white sheath, and Lily (Arica Himmel), her bratty pre-pubescent daughter. With a mother like Andrea, you’d be bratty too, and with loved ones like these to come home to, you’d head for the airport every chance you got.

For a good portion of the play, Headland’s script calls for the two homes to be onstage simultaneously. With minimal furniture, scenic designer Mark Wendland establishes the two households. They overlap at times, which is fine. It’s supposed to say something, I think, about how Shellie and Dex’s lives are intertwined from their one night together.

But sometimes, as when someone heads to the bathroom, an actor must traverse the entire stage and cross in front of the other family. It’s distracting and unnecessarily calls attention to something that’s not important. Director Trip Cullman sometimes plays into The Layover’s problems instead of smoothing them out.

The hotel room, where Shellie and Dex find themselves more than once, is another story altogether. Sharing the stage with no other location, it takes up the entire playing area. There’s a square coffee table sitting a couple of miles from the bed, an island in a sea of Hilton.

Costume designer Clint Ramos is more to the point, especially with Shellie. Late in the play, she appears in a soft purple dress with a wraparound look that Parisse wears stunningly. A little beyond Shellie’s blue-collar budget perhaps, but she could have gotten it at a thrift shop or a major clearance sale.

Where Ramos really comes through is at the play’s beginning. Shelley, who purchased her ticket pretty much on a whim, is wearing blue jeans and a striped, red and navy, long-sleeved top. But what defines her outfit is her footwear, ballet slippers in a leopard print. They clash with the stripes and send a clear message: this is a woman without vanity or affectation.

Would that the same could be said of Headland’s tortuous drama. For the first three scenes, writer, director, and actors shine. It’s all simple and direct. But throw a couple of more characters into the mix and watch out. Any semblance of a connection to the truth is hard to find.

 

Through September 10th. Second Stage at the Tony Kiser Theatre, 305 W 43rd St. 90 minutes, no intermission. www.2st.com

Photos: Joan Marcus

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