There's no escaping memories of the glossy Airport film series of the 1970s in this slight ensemble piece, though its disparate story threads play out in an airport terminal rather than in the stratosphere. The collage of sketches comes across more like a workshop for writers and actors than like a memorable entertainment. Seven writers penned the interlocking narratives, compiled by James J. Mellon. Bob Morrisey directs.
The stories range from sitcom-trite to rueful. The most engaging is Jim Lunsford's politically charged Remember the Hawks in which the grandfather (Morrisey) of a young man serving in war-savaged Iraq plans to travel there, walk right up to the battle site, and bring his relative home. This piece elicits a thoughtful reflection on the futility and insanity of war. Morrisey gives a touching performance, as does Lunsford as the man's son, trying to talk his father out of his foolhardy escapade. Mark Wyrick's Mai Ling, about two gay men (Jonathan Zenz and Michael Craig Shapiro) learning of unexpected obstacles as they prepare to travel to China to adopt and bring home an orphan girl, is a satisfying tidbit, capably performed.
Otherwise, the pickings are slim. In Duane Poole's Fear of Flying, the runaway-bride cliché plays out as expected, as a flustered groom (J.R. Mangles) tracks the frantic fugitive (Andrea Lockhart) down; this situation is feebly related to the plight of a panic-stricken pilot (Roger Ainsle). Also less than riveting are the cell-phone monologues of a lovestruck flight attendant (Effie Hortis), a boring exchange between a porter (Curtis C.) and a wheelchair-bound man (Danny Murphy), and the underwhelming revelations of a man (Robert Arbogast) who is about to be married. A character who interacts with the others in a vague attempt at a linking device is a chatty woman (Melanie Ewbanks) who's quite cheerful despite her statement that she's terminally ill. She carries around a doll that she calls her granddaughter. It's not clear whether this is an ironic riff on Lars and the Real Girl or if the audience is supposed to accept this as a real baby. In any case, it feels silly and superfluous.
Presented by Open at the Top Productions at the NoHo Arts Center,
11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood.
Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. Jan. 26-Feb. 24.
(818) 508-7101. www.thenohoartscenter.com.