Review: Al and Homer: The Drone Play

“Yep, clowns are still creepy.”

“Yep, clowns are still creepy.”

Photo courtesy of Ovation Stage

Al and Homer: The Drone Play, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$18. California Stage Theater, 2509 R Street; (916) 606-5050; Through August 21.
Rated 3.0

Playwright Jerry Fishman has written an important play about an important topic for his stage debut. Al and Homer: The Drone Play opened this week, under the direction of Penny Kline of Ovation Stage.

This is an uneven show, with many good things and some bad things. Topping the “good” list is Janet Motenko as a Puck-like clown, mostly silent, but the observer of all things.

It is the story of Al (Terry Randolph) and Homer (Brent Dirksen), two Air Force drone pilots with vastly differing opinions about the drone program, sitting together in a building on the Nevada desert tracking potential terrorists on the other side of the world. As the play progresses, their individual opinions put each other—and the world at large—in grave danger.

Homer is married to Amanda (Lynnette Blaney) and Al is dating her friend Nicole (Aviv Hannan). The mounting pressure on the two pilots begins to affect both relationships.

At the same time, a reporter from Al Jazeera pops in from time to time with breaking news flashes of intensifying conflict between India and Pakistan.

There is clever choreography by a Fred and Ginger-like couple (Elias Martinez and Rayana Wedge) whose dances between the dramatic scenes not only mimic the sentiment on stage, but also incorporate moving set pieces on- and offstage into the dances, a clever device by choreographer Sunny Smith.

Fishburn’s play exposes many aspects of the drone program and clearly expresses his frustration with the it and the apathy of the American people, but it does not pack the punch he intended.

The “shocking” finale is easy to predict early into the second act.