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Arrivals and Departures at The Kavinoky

The Kavinoky Theatre’s loyalty to prolific playwright Alan Ayckbourn continues with their current production of Arrivals and Departures, set in a London train station where an elaborate trap has been set to capture a terror suspect. A large assembly of law enforcement officers takes on the personae of everyday citizens in order to lure the terrorist into complacency.

But the focus of this play is not on a terrorist or this assembly of comically inept undercover officers. We are about to meet Barry Hawkins, a civilian parking officer who once came face to face with the suspect while ticketing his car, and Ez Swain, a demoted agent who has been assigned to keep him safe while he identifies this dangerous man.

The gimmick here, and there is almost always a gimmick in an Ayckbourn play, is that Act Two will exactly repeat the action of Act One, but the first time we will look into the private thoughts of Ez Swain, played with steady reserve by Aleks Malejs, and in Act Two, we will see the inner thoughts of Barry Hawkins, played with elfin charm by Gerry Maher. Each character has been trapped by the unethical actions of others; and each has been left to feel like a loser.

This meeting, which seems inconsequential, will turn out to be fateful for both Ez and Barry.

The performances in this production, directed with quick pace and sharp focus by David Lamb, are uniformly solid. What starts as sprightly comedy descends by increments into sobering revelations about people we might feel inclined to sum up and dismiss far too casually.

The pairing of Meljs and Maher is especially satisfying, and yet the appearances of many Kavinoky regulars, sometimes doubling in roles, is also quite impressive: Guy Balotine, Christian Brandjes, Kathleen Denecke, Eileen, Dugan, Genevieve Lerner, Joe Liolos, Lisa Ludwig, Gerry Ben Michael Moran, Dan Urtz, Ella Zack, and Karliegh Zack among them.

Arrivals and Departures is pleasing at every level: thoughtful, entertaining, and expertly performed.

The production continues through March 29th. For tickets, call (716) 829-7668.