BANGOR — Remember how in the olden days we used to gather for dinner parties? And as we sat around the table, shoulder to shoulder, we would share both good food and our best stories.
Well, that’s kind of what it is like watching a performance of the Penobscot Theatre Company’s virtual performance of “Flyin’ Solo.”
You have to provide the good food yourself, but the great stories abound in this show as PTC ensemble members – some very familiar faces, some new ones – take to the screen to give us a glimpse into their real lives. In fact, there are so many good stories they had to split them into two groups that perform alternately.
Each group was given a word – one was ‘hope” the other “faith” – upon which to loosely base the theme of their story. What they came up with is a collection of memoirs that is funny, poignant, horrifying, romantic, heartbreaking and completely relatable.
There’s Jenny Hart sitting in her well-worn minivan relating how years ago when expecting a second child she had reluctantly sacrificed her “cool” to become a minivan mom. Sadly, that second child never arrived, but she acknowledges she has become fond of her old van, which has been a witness to the heartbreak and happiness in her history.
Dennis Alvin Price says the language of his family when he was growing up on the farm was laughter and how eventually his fluency in humor took him to the mecca of comedy, Chicago, and some of the best improv stages in the world.
There isn’t a good parent anywhere who wouldn’t identify with Orlando Bishop’s poetic recollection of happening upon his teenage daughter weeping in the kitchen. His imagination runs wild with horrible possibilities before he finds the real reason behind her tears.
Husband and wife Ira Kramer and Grace Livingston Kramer have very different slices of their lives to share. Ira talks about how he met Grace, reluctantly fell in love and proposed to her on a Peruvian mountainside at sunrise. Grace chronicles the events of how she and Ira were among the first wave of people in the U.S. to come down with COVID-19 and how confusing and frightening it all was.
Christie Robinson talks about growing up in a household that looked fit for a 60s sitcom, where a happy smile was the cure for everything. This, she says, always worked like a charm for her – until it didn’t.
Julie Lisnet fulfills a promise by taking her mom’s ashes back to her native Germany.
Syrian born musician, Assasi, a handsome Middle Eastern dressed in traditional clothing, relates how a love story between him and a Maine woman, whom he met through music, turns into a grueling tale of his escape from Syria during its devastating civil war, becoming a refugee and the difficulty he had getting to America in the Trump era of immigration bans.
While Jeri Misler speaks about growing up in a Catholic family and eventually finding a spirituality that felt more natural to her, mostly it’s just fun to hear her talk, her face is so expressive.
And, oh, Ben Layman makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time as he recollects coming to terms with his sexuality and his first real kiss.
In all, there are 12 very different, equally terrific “best” stories in “Flyin’ Solo” performed live in two different sessions through Feb. 7. For those who buy tickets before Feb. 7, the taped show will be available until the end of the month. Single household tickets are $40. Tickets and subscriptions can be purchased online at penobscottheatre.org or by calling the box office at (207) 942-3333.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Assasi.