Platinum Travel Club
nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
October 7, 2005
When the press release tells you more about a show than the show itself does, there’s a problem. Franca Miraglia’s new play, Platinum Travel Club, has this problem in spades. The author squanders an excellent opportunity to examine the nature of both guilt and sexual obsession by leaving out crucial bits of information that would clarify the theme and the story, only to have much of that information surface in the press release—just enough, in fact, to help theatre reviewers make sense of it all. Most other theatregoers will be at a distinct disadvantage.
Sandie, a high-powered business executive who basically travels for a living, is on the run from her life. She is sad, lonely, and guilty over a deep, dark secret in her family’s past. To keep herself distracted on the road, she joins a business travelers' sex club and tries to comfort herself with anonymous sex. Naturally, Sandie keeps her on-the-road life and her off-the-road life completely separate. Playwright Miraglia does the same thing in her construction of Platinum Travel Club: the only thing both parts share are the specter of Sandie’s dead sister, Caroline (who figures prominently in the family’s dark past). But, Miraglia keeps them so separate that she fails to let one inform the other. I wouldn’t have known that the two halves had anything to do with each other if I hadn’t read the press release (and even then, a connection is made in only the most cursory fashion).
Sandie’s off-the-road time is spent dealing with family issues at the home of her parents, Jack and Maureen. There’s a clear rift between Sandie and Jack that goes back to Caroline’s death, but it’s never made clear what it is. Does Jack blame Sandie for her sibling’s untimely demise? Is she guilty because she feels responsible? Having clear-cut answers would help strengthen what could be a very effective subplot. As it is right now, the audience is left with too much guesswork to even care.
On the road, Sandie stays in a string of hotel rooms as anonymous as the one night stands she has. But, her reasons for having them remain cloudy. When the Executive, a fellow sex club member with whom Sandie has recurring liaisons, asks her why she joined, Sandie merely says, “I was curious.” That’s good enough for him, but not for the audience. Once again, a number of questions go unanswered. Who runs the club, and how did she find out about it? Why did she really join? Does she even like sex, or does she just use it to punish herself? I suspect Miraglia knows the answers, but unfortunately she never shares them.
The actors are game and do well even though Anne Beaumont’s lackluster direction strands them without urgency or momentum. (Kudos, in particular, go to leading lady Anne Winkles for having the guts to parade around in her underwear for at least half the show.) The designers also make nice contributions, especially set designer Casey Smith, who outfits the New Perspectives black box with a fractured white picket fence and a porch swing. Both are nice touches.