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    Fifty Minutes

    Fighter flight

    "Fifty Minutes," about the compelling story of the death of an unruly passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight last year, is too fragmented a play to really get off the ground.


    On Aug. 11, 2000, on a seemingly routine Southwest Airlines short hop from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, a 19-year-old passenger Jonathan Burton began to rampage through the plane and tried to rush the cockpit. Other passengers restrained the youth several times, but the struggle got out of hand, Burton was fatally injured, and a number of passengers ultimately stepped off the plane wondering whether they were heroes or murderers.

    Written by: Lucas Rockwood.
    Directed by: Sherri Kronfeld.
    Cast: Tigran Eldred, Jessica Faller, Raymond Hamlin, Guy Larkin, Mick Preston, Dawn Vicknair.

    Related links: Official site
    Fringe Festival 2001

    • Overview
    • Show listings

    • 21 Dog Years
    • Debbie Does Dallas
    • Doing Justice
    • Einstein's Dreams
    • The Elephant Man: The Musical
    • Equal Protection
    • Fifty Minutes
    • Fuck You or Dead Pee Holes
    • Gene de Tueur
    • L'Hiver Sous la Table
    • Imperative Flight
    • Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries
    • Loader #26
    • A Piece of My Heart
    • Sic
    • Snapshot
    • Take
    • Two Girls from Vermont
    • Woosh
    • Zoo

    • Absolutely Abreast
    • Break the Floor
    • I Dance

    • Studio

    Other Fringe Festivals
    • Fringe 2000
    "Fifty Minutes" takes this episode as its subject, with mixed results. It's a naturally dramatic story, with the transformation of ordinary people by extraordinary events and the ambiguous question of who did right and who did wrong. But the dialogue, apparently based on the experiences of the actual passengers, is delivered in slivers, with no one character getting to speak for more than a sentence.

    This is a favorite technique of contemporary playwrights trying to give their work a little extra edge, and it's clearly a mistake here. Think of it as the theatrical equivalent of channel surfing. There's never a chance to really hear what any one character was thinking during the melee and there's only a little about how they felt afterwards. The play just doesn't dig deep enough into the psyche to reach the level of insight it seeks, and at less than the 50 minutes referred to in the title, it could easily expand to include some more meaningful monologues from the people involved. "Fifty Minutes" was a great idea for a play, but it doesn't make the most of its compelling subject.

    AUGUST 19, 2001

    Reader comments on Fifty Minutes:

  • Guy Larkin was great   from K. Garlitz, Mar 18, 2002
  • Re: Guy Larkin was great   from bob wonder, Jun 8, 2003
  • 50 minutes script   from Bryan Clarke, Jan 21, 2004
  • [no subject]   from , Nov 6, 2008

  • Post a comment on "Fifty Minutes"