A review of Night Flight
An operetta performed by Book-It Repertory Theatre at The Moore Theatre
by Mykhanh P.
I have to admit, as I sat through the opening number of Night Flight, I was praying for the pace to pick up. Unfortunately, it didn’t until the second half.
Night Flight doesn’t really have a true plot. It is an operetta that has more of a “day-in-the-life” kind of feel to it, giving you a glimpse of what the life of a French airmail pilot was like in 1930s Buenos Aires, as Riviere, the chief, guides his pilots through their night-time ventures using radios and Morse Code. It probably would have worked, except for the fact that there was really no overarching theme to the mostly unconnected series of events.
It was very confusing trying to follow the story at first, since the characters never seemed to be properly introduced and some technical pilot terms were used; you couldn’t really figure out who exactly they were or what they were supposed to be doing. The random French words and phrases sprinkled in with the normal American accents was disjointed, and it also didn’t help with the confusion that an actor would abruptly interrupt himself to narrate his own thoughts or actions in the third person before immediately getting back into character. This disrupted the flow even further and was an extremely odd choice to make, as there was no particular, all-knowing narrator and the actors neither broke the fourth wall nor spoke in first person when narrating. If a person couldn’t figure out when a character was narrating or not, it could be very easy to get lost.
The second half, however, is another story. When one of the pilots got lost in a storm, the tension and suspense onstage increased dramatically as his fate is left hanging. Everything was so much more interesting and enjoyable as a result of this, and the pace quickened considerably. It was here especially that I would have liked to see the play delve more deeply into a theme; there was so much untapped potential, especially with all the different directions the narration could have gone. For instance, in one emotional monologue, Riviere comes to the conclusion that “Love leads us nowhere.” But otherwise, I was intrigued, particularly with the ambiguous ending.
The actors in Night Flight did a nice job of portraying the characters; they made you feel connected and sympathetic towards them. They sang pretty well when you could actually hear them over the live quartet, which made the environment feel even more intimate when coupled with the simple, bare set. The original songs were pleasant enough, if slightly forgettable, although at times, the tango influence was confusing. Using ladders as planes and rolling them across the stage was really clever, and the lights made it really feel as if you were flying among the stars in the night. Overall, it was just an average performance that probably will not inspire you to jump out of your seat and board a plane right away.
Night Flight plays now thru June 14th at the Moore Theatre, located downtown on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Virginia.
Presented by Book-It Repertory Theatre
for tickets and more information, visit www.book-it.org or call 206.216.0833