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THEATER REVIEW

'Flight Plan' Brings Trio Back to Earth

March 14, 1997|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gael, Gemma and Matt--siblings in their 30s--have been in limbo ever since their parents' small Cessna disappeared over Labrador.

Now a year has passed, and Gael is determined to move on with her life by moving from the family estate in upstate New York back to the big city. But Gemma is still an agoraphobic, obsessed with clipping her mother's magazines, while Matt seems to have disappeared almost as thoroughly as their parents.

In Devon O'Brien's "Flight Plan," at the Court Theatre, the three of them finally come to grips with their suspended lives.

O'Brien's premise is tantalizing, and she wrote some telling moments. But the play needs at least one more rewrite. It gets bogged down with self-conscious, discursive writing.

While it's interesting to observe the characters' reactions to news from Labrador, halfway through the play, the role reversal between two of the characters feels awfully schematic. And some of the questions about the characters' relationships with their parents--and how they manage to make ends meet--remain unanswered.

O'Brien plays Gael with a casual elegance that holds our attention but sometimes seems a bit out of context. Stacy Ray is persuasive as Gemma, perhaps because the character has fewer lines that sound artificial. The two men in the cast, Stuart Hughes and Redmond Gleeson, are burdened by some of the unlikelier speeches.

Tony Abatemarco directed on a lavish but cozy set designed by John Iacovelli and lit by J. Kent Inasy.

* "Flight Plan," Court Theatre, 722 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends April 13. (213) 466-1767. Running time: 2 hours.

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