It’s difficult to find theatre without pretense nowadays. Rarer still is to find a piece of theatre that has no agenda but to simply delight its audience. Air Play, a show billed for families but with universal appeal, is magical, mysterious and nothing but pure joy.
Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone are two clowns – “the red one and the yellow one”, according to a small child sitting behind me – who share one of those relationships we all remember from childhood. They are at war one minute, and wrapped around each other in deep affection the next – whether you are a four year old or a forty year old, this relationship rings true.
The charisma and charm of the pair is the golden thread that stitches everything together. Bloom and Gelsone’s individual stage presences are delightful. Both have superb comic timing and a generosity and respect towards one another and their audience which makes the whole show feel like a collaborative, thoughtfully wrapped gift. Their physical humour and ability to convey emotion through near-silent performance gives the piece a heart-warming emotional arc. This, combined with the visual artistry they create with the objects in the theatre, is what makes Air Play so special.
Daniel Wurtzel’s “air sculptures,” as they are described in the show’s press release, seem like the simplest things in the world, but no doubt they involve hours of wrestling with gases and physics. Standing within a circle of fans, the performers use fabric, umbrellas, balloons and glitter, manipulating them within the updrafts and downdrafts as produced by the fans. The result are pieces of art that you would swear could happen only in dreams. Colourful shapes snake and curl against a blackened universe; balloons curve and arc in gravity-defying trajectories; glitter hovers in mid-air. There are gasps and astonished exhales of ‘wow’ from children and adults alike. The effect is nothing short of astonishing.
It is a wordless world, underscored with music ranging from folk to choral music, but one that is simply a joy. The audience – young and old – were eating out of the palm of the performers’ hands from the moment the curtain lifted. Children will be enthralled and adults will take a much-needed exhale. Air Play is something that will infiltrate your imagination and not leave; it is the perfect antidote for anyone troubled by the current state of the world.