“On Air” mixes classic Fairy-tale characters and stories with modern sensibilities and need for “content”.
It evolved from small improvisations based around fairy tale characters in unusual settings, which were subsequently structured and developed by director Bradley Lewis Cannon. It is presumably from this latter stage we get the wraparound story involving a group of high-schoolers (an out-of-his-depth director played by Christie Gill, an ambitious Runner played by Emma Makin, and the genial sound-man Peter played by Jamie Duffin) trying to make a fake show as an audition piece for a TV channel together with its host, Kerry Minger (Finlay Gilzean).
Within this structure we get three individual pieces, two of them involving tabloid talk shows around Sleeping Beauty (Layla Crombie-Surgeon), Maleficent (Cora McNulty) & King Stefan (Andrew Dickie) and Cinderella (Iris Muir), Prince Charming (Finlay Gilzean), Shrek (Cameron DuPuy) & Fiona (Jason Sparrow) and a third around a reality dinner-competition involving the Snow Queen (Evie Smith), Little Red Riding Hood (Orla Meechan & Cora McNulty on alternate nights), Goldilocks (Molly Stevens) and Captain Hook (Maia Mcinneny).
The young cast define their characters well (especially Finlay Gilzean), though they might have done better leaning into their shared similarities in age, as they sometimes seem to be playing older, and they also worked well around the occasional prop mishap.
However, the inherent challenges of a stop and start structure (unfortunately here coupled with the pieces being placed in order of diminishing returns) stop this show from truly taking off.
Some well-delivered laugh-out loud jokes (both spoken and physical), an arc around Emma Makin’s runner, and a game cast & director ensure this show passes the audition, though perhaps after a second round.
Reviewer: Oliver Giggins
Reviewed: 9th June 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★