Taking place barely over a day, “The Coast Starlight” is packed with a series of what-if conversations that leave you longing for connection.
|Venue or Network||Lincoln Center Theater – Mitzi E. Newhouse|
|Address||150 W 65th St New York, NY 10023|
|Performance Date||February 25, 2023|
|First Performance At This Venue||February 16, 2023|
|Last Performance At This Venue||April 16, 2023|
|Tickets Starting At||$93|
|Genre(s)||Play, Drama, Young Adult|
|Duration||95 Minutes With No Intermission|
|T. J||Will Harrison|
|Ed||Jon Norman Schneider|
On a train heading to Seattle, T.J. faces a series of what-ifs. The biggest is what if he abandons his post in the Navy and what life that would give him. But, alongside that, is the what if of him talking to Jane? What if he talked to a fellow veteran in Noah and expressed what he was going through? What about Liz? She has so much life experience. What if he talked to her about being a nomad on the run for deserting his post?
How about Ed? Yes, life has been hard, but he still holds onto hope. Maybe T.J. could learn about how he keeps even an inkling of it from him? Or Anna! She’s someone’s mom, and anything resembling a parent in T.J.’s life has either died or left him. Maybe she could allow him some maternal wisdom?
So many conversations, many unhad, and one young man’s decision affected by all the ways he and the others could have imagined those conversations going.
Things To Note
- Dialog: Cursing
- Violence: Discussions of violent acts
- Sexual Content: none
- Miscellaneous: Talking about drinking and depiction of a drunk
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
T.J., a navy combat medic who, after one tour in Afghanistan, has no desire to return and complete his military contract. But with deserting his post comes consequences, but with limited family and friends to tie him to any specific place, the consequences are more so financial than social.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Graham Dunne in the upcoming “Daisy Jones & The Six.”
An immigrant with mathematicians for parents but herself having a passion for drawing cartoons, Jane is on her way to see her college boyfriend, who she has dated long distance.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Frida Kahlo in “Lovecraft Country”
Like T.J., Noah is a veteran. However, after serving his contract and country, he didn’t live some white picket fence dream. Noah became a nomad of sorts and currently lives on a friend’s boat, picking up odd jobs here or there.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Simon in the upcoming “Mort in Sherman Oaks,” Donny Blaze in “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” and Mitch Nelson in “A Million Little Things.”
Almost as nomadic as Noah, Liz is a Florida native who has spent most of her life heading west, picking up different skills and stories along the way. Be it working with a magician, at Disney, or even as a fitness instructor. But her best stories might be about the men she met and the lessons learned.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Aideen in the upcoming “40,” Various characters in “The Venture Bros.” and Emily in “Get Shorty.”
Down on his luck but still employed and with a roof over his head, Ed is often on the road meeting people who think they have the next big thing. Often times they don’t, and compared to his former life, he has essentially gone from thriving to surviving.
A mother of two boys, queer, and married, Anna works in college admissions and has a rather good life. However, she has kept one secret from her children – that as brilliant as she is, and they are, their uncle was too. Accent on the “was” since she just had to identify his body.
- You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Jan in “A Love Song”
It Pushes You To Wonder About All The Conversations You Dream Up But Don’t Pursue
Many times when on public transit, you may notice if someone doesn’t have earphones in, their eyes are down and looking at their phone. If you ever meet eyes with someone for a second, it can sometimes feel like a shameful act. As if you are voiding their privacy by looking at another person in a public space.
And then you hear people talk. Couples giggle amongst each other, saying stuff you don’t understand the reference to. People talk with their kids, and you find yourself realizing how many little worlds are around you. But, by no means do you enter someone’s orbit. Just having your eyes meet is like an asteroid grazing their atmosphere.
Yet, as we listen to each person and how they would react to Liz’s outburst, T.J.’s problem, Jane’s life story, and why she is going to Portland, you truly realize how much you are missing out. The love of your life, the great, life-altering conversation with a stranger, has been avoided. Maybe someone who could have given you the grace you so desperately seek and think only an angel could provide, only to learn they’d appear to you in a human form via a stranger.
Watching the actors move on the swiveling stage, practically dancing around one another, left me feeling strangely alone. Mainly for it presents such a mirror to how, because we’re all seeking distractions, sometimes hiding behind literal masks, having any sort of new, meaningful, human connection, human experience, can easily become foreign. Especially when not forced upon you in exchange for goods, services, or the expectations of your job duties.
The Humor and Conversations
While you won’t laugh to the point of thinking “The Coast Starlight” is a comedy, you will chuckle and giggle with the rest of the crowd. However, it is the conversations that stick with you. I particularly took an interest in Liz talking about how people should seek out those who aren’t poison for them. It’s all spoken of in terms of what could be between T.J. and Jane, and with the recognition that both are good people, it is also noted that between their futures and pasts, the incompatibility could make two nice people toxic for one another. All of this is said without any negative feelings towards either, for Liz finds them both young and adorable.
But, as shown by her hilarious entrance monolog, alongside her story in general, she knows a thing or two about relationships.
On The Fence
Sometimes You May Lose Yourself In Not Knowing What Is A Real Conversation
As the actual stage turns three hundred and sixty degrees, signaling time passing, you may find yourself lost. It’s a minor critique, but with everyone so much in their head, verbalizing what they think or want to say or do, it can be easy to lose what’s real.
Did those two talk? The seating arrangement changed, so is there some unreliable narration? It all pushes the idea we’re given each character’s emotional memory than facts
It’s a recounting of how they felt about Ed coming onto the train drunk, ready to fight, or hearing about Liz’s most recent breakup. Thus making for a series of imagined conversations that easily blur with the real ones in a sometimes confusing way.
Our Rating: Positive (See Live)
“The Coast Sunlight” is an experience. One that, especially if your life isn’t filled with things that can be categorized as distractions, leaves a sense of longing but also appreciation. We all may live in our worlds, but watching the play makes you appreciate that no real boundary exists between us. Someone can give a simple compliment, ask for help, and remind you, unlike a rock in space, you aren’t just floating where something much bigger than you is pulling you towards. You do control something. It’s just, somehow, you forgot or handed over your control and forgot how to, like some kids, interact and be present.
Our Rating: Positive (See Live)
It Pushes You To Wonder About All The Conversations You Dream Up But Don't Pursue - 88%
The Humor and Conversations - 82%
Sometimes You May Lose Yourself In Not Knowing What Is A Real Conversation - 78%
"The Coast Starlight" is the type of play with staying power, and between a mini-series or film, could easily translate and expanded on in other forms of media.
Follow Wherever I Look on Twitter and Instagram, Like us on Facebook, and Subscribe to the YouTube Channel.