Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Shields - Departures and Arrivals

I had no idea that Carol Shields had written or co-written four plays.  The one that strikes me as the most interesting -- and that I have checked out of the library -- is called Departures and Arrivals.  Apparently, nearly all of it takes place in airport waiting areas.  I imagine large parts would have to be rewritten today (or at least relocated out near the ticketing area) as it is much, much harder to accompany passengers into airports today.  I hope it is as interesting as I think it might be.


After reading it last night, I have to say the play feels incredibly dated.  One of the major recurring themes is that this pilot is having huge trouble accepting the idea that a flight attendant (with whom he has had the occasional fling) has been taking flight lessons and wants to become a pilot.  Now let's leave aside the fact that to get a commercial airline pilot's licence one has to have a huge amount of flight time, so one would generally work up from private jets or puddle jumpers to becoming a pilot for one of the major airlines (indeed, an awful lot of pilots got around this by getting their flight time in the military), but the dialogue is just pretty cringe-worthy centered around the "awareness" that the pilot experiences as he comes to term with a woman attempting to do his job.  Other sections are about two travelers with identical suitcases pairing up.  And two women buying the huge insurance policies offered at the ticket counter but for their husbands, not themselves.  They both seem to be daydreaming of starting over with the money and with new partners.  The whole thing reeks of the 70s, though it was actually written in the early 80s.  Somehow I am a bit more forgiving of the early books in Maupin's Tales of the City than I am of this play.

Basically I think the whole thing would have to be completely redone to make it at all relevant.  Air travel is incredible frustrating these days and not remotely liberating.  Celebrities don't pose for pictures at the airport anymore.  The number of people who are quite high-strung due to politicians stoking their fears of terrorism is quite large and would have to be included in these vignettes.  Frankly, it doesn't really seem worth the effort.  It's not even funny enough to just live on as a period piece as arguably How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying or Boeing-Boeing do.  I guess that's really all I have to say about this piece.

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