In Review

Mud Blue Sky

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars - 'Sweet Stuff'
Aurora Theatre
By Marisa Wegrzyn
Directed by Tom Ross
Featuring Jamie Jones, Rebecca Dines, Laura Jane Bailey, Devin O’Brien
Bay Area Premiere
auroratheatre.org
Review by

Back before stewardesses transmogrified into flight attendants, even flying coach could occasion a frisson of excitement. Mud Blue Sky, which just opened at the Aurora in Berkeley, shows the price of that excitement.

The action opens with Beth (Jamie Jones) entering her hotel room so wearily she’s a very likable antithesis of stewardess glamor as we watch her power through fatigue just long enough to connect with her pot dealer. This is no high-flying Barbie-stew (pun intended). She’s the take-charge one: your mother – or maybe you – keeping eyelids popped open while trying not to advertise she’s been doing it on autopilot for a mighty long time.

Sam (Rebecca Dines) is Beth’s opposite, but only because she’s younger and still game. Dines brings such an electric quality to her character that nobody’s going to be too angry at her for eliminating any possibility of sleep.

This is no high-flying Barbie-stew

Jonathan (Devin S. O’Brien) is Beth’s pot guy. This high school student is the betwixt-and-between character who’s so adolescently awkward he doesn’t protest when these ladies promise to pay later for his weed. This is his prom night, and he tries not to advertise that he’s been dumped by his date. Like the Sam and Beth, he’s stuck between worlds.

Mud Blue Sky - Aurora Theatre
Beth (r, Jamie Jones) keeps quiet about Sam (l, Rebecca Dines) and Angie’s (back, Laura Jane Bailey*) plans as Jonathan (c. seated, Devin O’Brien) rolls a joint

Despite the character’s awkwardness and fatigue, you’ll still lean forward to catch the dialogue between these three. Lines like “swilling in the bathtub gin of self regret” get delivered with such total aplomb it will take your breath away, and old feints – quick hide in the bathroom! – are new again.

Angie (Laura Jane Bailey) arrives midstream with a $400 bottle of cognac and infuses this comedy with a different kind of energy. Overweight, out-of-work and divorced, her life seems the inevitable outcome of a stew’s professional trajectory. However, playwright Marisa Wegryzn is too smart to follow such an easy path. Bailey’s such a skilled actress that the sweet story about the source of cognac has the effect of elevating the play beyond sitcom equivalent.

Mud Blue Sky - Aurora Theatre, Berkeley (Review)
l-r, Beth (Jamie Jones) listens to Angie’s (Laura Jane Bailey) plans for her newly scored joint in Aurora Theatre Company’s Bay Area Premiere of Mud Blue Sky

This set isn’t one of the Aurora’s more spectacular (think Mamet’s American Buffalo, and Chad Deity), but the off-stage cutaways to the hotel hallway and bathroom are so visually interesting that you’ll still wonder how the Aurora pulls off such detailed effects.

Mud Blue Sky is on stage in Berkeley through September 27.

Photos: David Allen.

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Cy Ashley Webb
Cy spent the ‘80’s as a bench scientist, the tech boom doing intellectual property law, and the first decade of the millennium, aspiring to be the world’s oldest grad student at Stanford where she is interested in political martyrdom. Presently, she enjoys writing for Stark Insider and the SF Examiner, hanging out at Palo Alto Children's Theatre, and participating in various political activities. Democracy is not a spectator sport! Cy is a SFBATCC member.