A teaching moment – Defying Gravity shoots for poetry, falls to earth in DramaDogs latest

DramaDogs only produce one play a year — recently, anyway — and have such short lives in the theater (only three performances), that many in town might not be aware of their long existence. E. Bonnie Lewis, co-director with husband Ken Gilbert, stars elsewhere in other company’s plays, but a DramaDogs show is her fullest expression of her art and DD’s techniques. Those techniques were out on full display in their production of “Defying Gravity,” Jane Anderson’s 1997 play about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Or at least that’s the springboard for a play that means to tie together our dreams of flight with concepts of faith and art. Ms. Anderson’s play is a lightly comic collage of disparate parts that intersect at humdrum moments. There’s a Christa McAuliffe stand-in, just called the “Teacher” in the play (Michelle A. Osborne) and her child (Natascha Skerczak) who narrates the play as an adult, but plays a five-year-old in the scenes with her mother. There’s a retired couple, Ed and Betty, played by Juan Rodriguez and Meredith McMinn, who are touring the country in a Winnebago and head to the Kennedy Space Center to see the launch. There’s a NASA engineer C.B. (Joe Andrieu) who spends his after hours at a local bar, flirting with the bartender Donna (Erica S. Connell), and after the Challenger explosion, drowning his sorrows and blaming himself. And there’s Claude Monet (Ken Gilbert), the Impressionist painter who died in 1926.

Read More