Her dreams of the stage in not-so-friendly skies

Special to The Times

Don’t you just hate it when an editor cuts the best line from your review? And hello -- let’s talk about onstage nudity: Why is it never the person you want to see who gets naked?

Oops, sorry -- that’s an excerpt from my one-man show about the wacky, never-dull life of a theater critic. I’m polishing it up for the national booking circuit after seeing “Around the World in a Bad Mood,” subtitled “Confessions of a Flight Attendant,” the agreeably flimsy solo show written by and starring Rene Foss, a real-life stewardess. It’s now at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse, with a subsequent run at the El Portal Theatre.

The show covers pretty much what you’d expect about the mile-high milieu, from meal service mishaps to safety-belt silliness. But Foss -- whose smile is so big and bright her name ought to be Floss -- delivers it with such enthusiasm it’s almost infectious to the uninitiated.


It’s an even bigger hit with her peers: A pre-show roll call identified alumni of many carriers, and this primed-for-laughter crowd ate up her lampoon of life at 39,000 feet like so many complimentary peanuts.

Not that we laypeople don’t recognize her 767-sized targets. Who hasn’t witnessed the barely contained contempt of a flight attendant in the face of peremptory passenger abuse? “I’ll be right back,” Foss informs us, is essentially the airline service equivalent of a middle finger.

At its best, Foss’ show has a wickedly playful feeling of payback. Though she ultimately waxes sentimental about her two-decade career in the air -- and her own mother’s tour of duty in the “golden age” of the 1950s -- she misses few opportunities to riff on passengers’ sense of entitlement, pilot arrogance, the industry’s cost-cutting and the spiritual toll of smiling through boredom, resentment and trash collection.

This sense of getting her due extends, a little less attractively, to the acting career Foss says she’d always wanted. Look at me now, she essentially tells us in so many words: I’m living my dream of being an actress!

Well, sort of. She dons a wig to play a matronly stewardess trainer with a Midwestern accent as pungent as lutefisk. She pulls on a coat and a cap to assay a pilot with a Southern drawl, a gun (“I’m deputized”) and a fifth of Jack Daniel’s. And she performs an airline-themed version of “Macbeth” with puppets made of airsick bags.

The night scores direct hits with an in-the-know audience. If you or someone you love works as what the Replacements once called “a waitress in the sky,” by all means, book seats on “Around the World.”



‘Around the World in a Bad Mood’

Where: Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse, Pier Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday through

Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday

Ends: Sunday

Price: $35 to $45

Contact: (310) 372-4477

Running time: 90 minutes


Where: San Fernando Valley Playhouse at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Nov. 10-12 and Nov. 16-19, 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 13 and Nov. 20, 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 14 and Nov. 21

Ends: Nov. 21

Contact: (818) 764-2400