The press release for Flyer calls Brad S. Barnes' reworking of the Flying Dutchman myth a "sly, romantic fantasy" set during the French Revolution. Well, it's set in present-day California, and it isn't particularly sly or romantic. Barnes envisions a universe in which Fglier (pronounced "Flyer" with a silent "G") is condemned to a hell of consuming milk and cookies in a Catalina Island bar. His nemesis, a muffin maker named Huggy Bear, may or may not have started the French Revolution.
Together, they are cursed with immortality until they either find love or kill each other ("There can be only ONE!"). Throw in a slut (who is strangely reluctant to pick up men) and a prude (with raging hormones) as love interests, a former lover (if not love) of both men, a 21-year-old lawyer who slept her way through college (did she start at 14?), and the little-known aircraft carrier USS Titanic, and you have what could be the setup for a wonderful piece of camp. Sadly, it all goes horribly, tragically wrong.
There is a certain morbid fascination in watching the actors drop lines (including writer/director/star Barnes) and miss entrances—or entire scenes. Props are forgotten, and in extreme cases, actors break character entirely (a bride refusing to kiss her groom during the final wedding scene comes to mind). To their credit, most of the time, the cast members (who shall here go nameless to protect their reputations) seem to enjoy themselves even if we don't. Kelly De Gon's pastor does deliver a truly funny monologue relating true love to expensive cars.
Unfortunately, by the time she comes onstage, mentioning cars only arouses a strong desire to drive to a bar and drink a beer. Or several.
I would almost recommend seeing this play because somebody somewhere has to set the bottom of the bell curve—and we should all see the nadir of theater. If only as a warning.
Flyer at Second Stage Theatre, 2122 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 545-3852. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. Through Sept. 25. $10.
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