“Arrival & Departure” is an exquisitely acted, deeply moving, must-see play written by award-winning playwright, director, producer and co-artistic director of the Fountain Theatre Stephen Sachs.
The story is based on the 1945 British film, “Brief Encounter,” which was based on the Noel Coward play, “Still Life.” The story is simple. A pair of present-day lovers come together through a shared understanding of American Sign Language.
Two strangers, Sam (the extraordinary Troy Kotsur), and Emily (played by Troy’s equally extraordinary real-life wife, Deanne Bray), who are both married with children, meet by chance in a New York City subway station. Sam is Deaf and Emily is hard-of-hearing.
As their casual friendship develops into something deeper, each is forced to confront how their simmering relationship could forever change their lives and the lives of those they love. Each character makes a choice and then they will have to face the consequences.
Another parallel love story that is an integral part of the play takes place between an African-American Transit cop, Russell (Shon Fuller), and a Filipino-American Dunkin’ Donut counter girl, Mya (Jessica Jade Andres), who’s trying to extricate herself from a destructive relationship.
Adam Burch and Stasha Surdyke, who provide the voices of Sam and Emily, are absolutely outstanding. Also rounding out the cast is the wonderful Aurelia Myers who plays Emily’s super-insecure 13 year-old daughter Julie, and Emily’s religious husband, Doug (Brian Robert Burns).
The play is performed by both hearing and Deaf actors in a fully integrated unique blend of open captioning, American Sign Language and Spoken English. Using a hearing aid, Bray speaks as well as signs and her performance is breathtaking. At the same time, Troy’s signing is absolutely stunning. I felt as if I was watching great ballet dancers. Both of them present some of the best work I’ve seen on a stage in a very, very long time.
Another highlight is the use of video screens as part of the set, filling the scene with images such as subway signs, a living room interior, Central Park, speeding trains, and crowds of people rushing through the city streets. They are masterly designed by Nicholas E. Santiago. Along with the highly creative sets designed by Matthew G. Hill, you totally forget you are sitting in a theatre in Hollywood.
One of the most beautiful scenes in the play (and there are many) occurs when Sam and Emily dip their feet into the Central Park lake. That alone is worth the price of admission. I could go on and on about this fantastic play, but all I really want to say is…Go see it!
Ticket prices are $20-$40. The play opened on July 14th and plays until September 30th. The performances are: Mondays: 8:00pm, Fridays & Saturdays: 8:00pm; Sunday: 2:00pm & 7:00pm. The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles. To purchase tickets: call 323-663-1525 or on the website.