South Vancouver gem the Metro Theatre is currently presenting a run of Norm Foster's Here on the Flight Path. The Hamilton Spectator once called this play cheerful and uplifting, and many people who have seen this newest Vancouver production have called it a romantic comedy. Personally, I was scared to death by the realism and a glimpse at my potential future.
Here on the Flight Path is the American Pie of Canadian Theatre. Horny man trying to hook up with perfect women—only Canadianized—with a middle-aged, anal-retentive divorcee trying to bed three average women with personalities flaws. With most of the men in attendance at the show much older than me, the capacity for empathy incited uncontrollable laughter in them but turned my experience into an introspective nightmare. Will these jokes one day be funny to me? When a future director edits in the words 'facebook', or 'sexting', will I be laughing and high-fiving my divorced friends too?
The play opens with sensibly-dressed John Cummings (played by Sam Barnes) sporting a soup strainer moustache and tweed jacket, then introducing the audience to his pathetic existence as a neurotic, unaccomplished everyman, complete with a divorce, photographs of his children and a column in the local paper called Cummings & Goings. Pffff, he's nothing like me. I would never name my column with a pun on my last name. Dork.
Throughout two acts and two years, Cummings tries to get with his new female neighbours time after time, as three women come and go from the adjacent balcony: prostitute Faye (Jane Provinciana), aspiring broadway singer Angel (Sarah Szloboda) and recently-divorced Gwen (Robyn Daye Edwards). Situation comedy-style scenes play out, and while Cummings maintains his polite and sensitive demeanour for the women, (ya like I..., I mean HE will, ever actually write that novel) he reserves his less-chivalrous comments for his horny asides with the audience. Who vents their inner thoughts to an audience? Geez
Is this what I have to look forward too? Surely there must be something more? During intermission in the lobby, two men were having a conversation. One could have been my grandfather and one could have been my Dad. Dad said to grandpa “Pretty funny eh?” Grandpa said to Dad “Ya, I always get something different from it everytime I see it. 'Course the last time I saw it I was just divorced.” Son shuddered.
Here on the Flight Path is undoubtedly a tragicomedy for the North American male but never does it reach a moment where it says “Hey, everything's going to be alright.” As theatre, it accomplished something for me by reaching me on a personal level, albeit not the way they might have intended, and I will walked away from this experience changed. While this play will be a great comedy for many who make it down to the Metro over the next few weeks, it has officially kickstarted my unstoppable fear of aging and left me with a determined resolve to avoid divorce at all costs.
Here on the Flight Path runs Thu-Sat at The Metro Theatre until Feb.13