If I were to list all the accolades and awards that Stephen Sachs has won over his long career as a playwright, a director, and as co-artistic director of the Fountain Theatre, there wouldn’t be any room left to tell you about his latest play, “Arrival and Departure”. Suffice it to say, Stephen Sachs has done it again!
“Arrival and Departure” is based on Noel Coward’s screenplay for the 1945 film “Brief Encounter”, but if you say, “Oh, I saw that movie…” let me tell you “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
Sachs’ romantic drama stars Troy Kotsur and Deanne Bray, two amazing performers who were born deaf, are married in real life, and can exhibit more emotion communicating in American Sign Language than many actors do shouting at the top of their lungs. And as they sign, their words are voiced simultaneously by Adam Burch and Stasha Surdyke, two equally fine actors.
In this rendition of the love story that evolves between Emily and Sam, two strangers who meet by chance in a subway station in New York, Sachs has added other wonderful characters who also fall in love. They include Jessica Jade Andres, who runs the coffee and pastry bar in the station, and Shon Fuller, a security guard who courts her playfully and displays a fine baritone as he sings to her.
There is also a cyber-love that develops between Emily’s young daughter (Aurelia Myers) and a nameless boy she meets on the Internet. And there is Emily’s husband (Brian Robert Burns), whose love for Jesus interferes with his love for her.
But telling these stories is only half the fun. As director, Sachs has added dazzling accoutrements that keep the action moving. For instance, between scenes the entire cast marches rapidly around the set in single file, signifying the hustle and bustle of life in New York, especially in the subway. Further, the city itself is presented by Matthew Hill’s scenic design and the extraordinary video design of Nicholas Santiago, which fills the background with everything from panoramic views of the city, bucolic scenes in a sun-filled park, and the noisy rush of the ever-present trains.
Especially nostalgic for anyone who has lived in New York is the authentic mosaic sign that identifies the site as the 59th street station. And, as a helpful addition to members of the audience who are hearing-impaired (and there were many), small screens on each side of the set provide subtitles for all the spoken dialogue.
In short, Stephen Sachs has provided every imaginable detail to make this enchanting story another artistic triumph.
Noel Coward would be so proud!
“Arrival and Departure” can be seen Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 through September 30th at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. (Fountain at Normandie) in Los Angeles. For tickets, call (323) 663-1525 or online at www.FountainTheatre.com.
Cynthia Citron has worked as a journalist, public relations director, documentary screenwriter and theater reviewer. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org