Craving for Travel, written by Greg Edwards and Andy Sandberg, and directed by Natasha Parnian immediately piqued my interest from the first time I read the tagline used in promotional materials: “2 Actors. 30 Characters. 80 minutes. No Problem.” The play absolutely keeps that promise, with Jay Tilley and Arianne’ Warner jumping from character to character, all with quick costume changes, different mannerisms and spot-on accents.
My experience began as soon as I walked in and received a ticket, an authentic Delta Airlines luggage tag.
The set design, by Natasha Parnian with dressing by Arianne’ Warner, is worth mentioning for its simple and elegant use of space. It took me several minutes to notice that the box set was actually pipe and drape (modular theatrical curtains), cleverly disguised as walls of two travel agencies. All the set dressing was intentional and felt like it truly belonged.
Janalee Coxwell (Stage Manager), Matt Thomas (Assistant Stage Manager) and Peyton Johnston (Sound Operator) also worked as stage crew and were all appropriately dressed as flight attendants, another fun detail that helped add to the overall tone of the evening. Kudos to Johnston; there were easily over 100 sound cues in this short play and each cue seemed to come right on time.
Tilley performed wonderfully as Gary Bolton, a travel agent trying to win the Globel Prize, a yearly award given to the best agent in the industry. His major competition is none other than his ex-wife, Joanne Pierce, played deftly by Arianne’ Warner. The scenes between Warner and Tilley as former man and wife are delightful, and even though they only share one scene where they are physically in the same location, that does not prevent the two from very convincingly acting like they have a wealth of life experiences together.
If the play was just about their camaraderie and friendly competition, it would still be fun, but the best part of the evening was watching Warner and Tilley transform into different characters onstage, playing the neurotic customers to their competing travel agencies. My favorite characters were sometimes the most ridiculous: Warner was the best sort of irritating as a very insistent Lithuanian man trying to drum up travel to his country. Tilley’s portrayal of a pathetic man who dared to use Travelocity to book a trip to Beijing and suffered heavily for the mistake was equal parts charming and goofy.
While lots of the play was highly comedic, there were also tender, emotional moments too. Tilley’s Gary Bolton helped a little old lady (played by Warner) plan a dream trip to Casablanca with her husband. The series of scenes for that story arc was touching and brought a great dynamic to the evening.
After each performance, there is a short talkback/ Q&A session with the cast and crew, moderated by Natasha Parnian. It was during the talkback that I found out that Parnian also worked as the dialect coach, which in this show with several different accents, was no small feat!
Make sure you get your tickets early, as the very intimate venue holds about 40 seats.
Running Time: 80 minutes, no intermission.