Love Field; A Flight of Fantasy
From the 24th of October until the 2nd of November, The Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst hosts the world premiere of Ron Elisha’s Love Field; A Flight of Fantasy. In this very interesting account of experimental history, playwright Elisha explores a very tense flight on Air Force One to Washington just after the assassination of John J Kennedy. The play imagines a conversation between Lyndon Baines Johnson and Jackie Kennedy over the still-warm coffin of her husband, President Kennedy.
The play hinges on character dynamics and the play shifts in power very easily. In portraying character, we see a distraught Jackie Kennedy in her overwhelmed state of grief, still covered in the blood spatters from the assassination. We are drawn into her closeted world of being first lady, love of America and doting wife. From there, we see her demise as she realises all the hopes for her future and the future of America have gone down with her husband. Meanwhile, LBJ has just had greatness thrust upon him in a very untimely manner. We see his character development shift and change along the play, according to his interactions with Jackie; his apprehension towards this new role, his vulnerability and finally his newfound Presidential confidence.
Lizzie Schebesta and Ben Wood performed with so much power, conviction and passion as Jackie Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Schebesta was feisty, like a live cracker and her performance seemed very akin to the characterisation of a grieving First Lady. Schebesta is very powerful on stage and has a lot of control, attention to gesture, detail and movement. Wood performed LBJ with such consistency. This man had stage presence and confidence and he was so easy to listen to.
In my opinion, the play was rather rushed to come to a conclusion. At times, I wasn’t sure where the plot was going because the audience was only peering in on an in-flight conversation between the two leads. Then the characters shifted and I felt the power seemed a little unbalanced. I think the ending was believable and the actors carried the play with their passionate performances, however I think had there been time for an interval, the final character twists may have seemed less rushed.
Apart from that, I was wholly impressed with the production. The set was perfect and the use of space was economical and rather clever. The sound and lighting was carefully managed, with interjections of multimedia. Actual archival footage from that fateful day in November, 1963, coupled with authentic sound bites really added to the play. I was very impressed. Furthermore, the Tap Gallery was a very amiable host for this event. Comfortable for an intimate audience, the Tap Gallery is a nice fusion of art and culture in the one centre.
I’d recommend catching Love Field in commemoration of the Kennedy assassination’s 50 year anniversary and I’d recommend it to people who are interested and curious at all things historical. It was a great experimental history.