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Thursday, October 2, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 61.0° F  Light Rain Fog/Mist
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Lounging Around by Broom Street Theater is pleasant but transient
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With Lounging Around, the folks at Broom Street Theater have achieved something remarkable: They've made the interminable wait for a delayed flight enjoyable, if not exhilarating.

The action in this farce takes place entirely at an airport gate. Fog has grounded all planes, leaving the passengers flying out on Fantastical Airlines with nothing to do but gripe and trade stories, or head offstage for a coffee, beer or pee break. They've got plenty of time, too, as airline representative Cathy (Cassi Harris, evoking Best in Show's Jane Lynch at her most tautly chipper) periodically pops in to inform them; her apologies as the estimated wait time increases are as authentically empty as the slogan she rattles off in a singsong.

Like Cathy, the travelers are caricatures, well-known denizens of every such waiting area. There's the cat lady (Megann Kelley, in a sweatshirt and, especially, a cap many moms would envy), the somewhat senile senior, the nuns, the angry businessman and the three college bros, among others.

Performances at Sunday's matinee showing ranged from adequate to charming. The show's writer, Siobhán Edge, doing double duty as an Irish grandmother and an aging, faded TV star, handled both roles with natural ease and earned the most laughs. Other characters -- Grace Grindrod-Feeney's little girl and Justin Lawfer's harried new father, with a wailing infant -- were as grating as intended, which lent to the verisimilitude a bit too much. It would have been nice to put on headphones and turn up the iPod to tune them out.

The humor, too, is broad, consisting mostly of one-liners, puns and the odd dirty joke. They're groaners, but they make no bones about it. And although some punch lines are spelled out a little too clearly to be funny, the bulk skip by at just the right clip. (Less amusing is Greg Johnson's escalating feline abuse. His performance is solid, but his character's distaste for his wife's pet veers off into the disturbing. And the other big Johnson joke, if you will, could probably benefit from being, er, bigger, actually.)

Ben Doran's direction is simple but sturdy, and if Lounging Around has a major shortfall, it's that you don't care about any of the travelers, even the likable ones. Near the end, the passengers are given a reason to unite to prevent incurring any further delay, and it's hard not to think what a great premise that would make: What sort of morally questionable things will people do to finally get on a flight?

As it stands, the most sympathetic character is Cathy, who just wants to make it through without strangling anybody. The others don't face any real crisis or undergo any real change. In fairness, though, they're not on a journey -- just waiting for it to begin.

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