The events of September 11th, 2001 left Americans, English and Irish travelers stranded for days in the 10,000 plus town of Gandor, Newfoundland. The travelers were making the transoceanic flight across the Atlantic to New York City when American soil was attacked. In midair, the planes were diverted to Gandor International Airport. The travelers were forced to settle in the hotels of Gandor without their personal luggage for roughly a week. Thus began the adventures of Michael Walsh.
Written and performed by Michael Walsh, Between Takeoff and Landing is Walsh’s account of the events that unfolded over the course of those strange days in Gandor. Walsh takes a light-hearted approach in digesting his experience by bringing to life the various people he met in Gandor.
Walsh switches between characters with ease and skill. A considerably impressive feat given that he only spent a matter of a few days with his fleeting friends. Through his carefully rehearsed impersonations we come to know the them; some more closely than others. Each deals with the impossible situation mostly by drinking and delving into a small amount of debauchery.
What is remarkable is the contrast between the characters, from the “tough” Brooklyner and the first class princess, to the actual Gandorians. Walsh is a nonjudgmental voice between the people he describes in Gandor. He is constantly listening and feeding off their personalities. His own relationship with New York City shifts over his “between” time in Gandor, which we recognize when he describes the feeling of being temporarily homeless and lost. T
This one-man play is about the families we find when away from our comfortable homes. The events of September 11th are hardly discussed through out the play, which may be a loss for those hoping to gain a closer understanding of what an event can do to the psyche.
But, it is a gain for those interested in a perspective of how that day unfolded for people in transit. It does make you appreciate the randomness of whom you travel beside on any given day. Amidst the tragedy of September 11th comes a story of hospitality and friendship, which clearly were saving graces for the people stationed in Gandor.
Lastly, the story is one of cultural appreciation, which truly comes through in the final tear-jerking moments.
Between Takeoff and Landing has 4 more performances at Goethe Institut – Mainstage, 812 7th Street NW, Washington, DC.
Breena rates this 3 out of 5
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