The queue was taking an age to move long after we’d had the infernal QR codes checked on our phones. It proved to be perfect preparation for the theme of the first half of this show; the relentless discomfort of the modern air travel experience. Corralled onto the stage by means of those stretchy elastic barriers we’re allowed to proceed one by one through the ‘security check’ to our seats. Just don’t dare bring a bag.
It was an amusing start and once safely back to our role as the audience we were free to observe an artful, accurate representation of airport hell. On a screen behind was displayed an American Airlines poster from the days when airports were exciting, giddy spaces and planes and their staff glamorous and amenable. They probably still are if you have a truckload of cash but our three characters seemed to be travelling economy. Or ‘coach’ as American Airlines would have said. There’s the linen-besuited chap who might be on a business trip, the gap-year backpacker on the hunt for extreme events followed by intense bouts of meditation, and lastly our portly party fellow intent on a good time, and a good drink.
The action as they queue, sit down, stand up and wander around is punctuated by announcements regarding re-scheduled flight times and cancellations. The choreography conveys the sense of being caged and a feeling of anxiety creeps in, ultimately resulting in a full-blown panic attack from our chap in the suit. It’s lively, entertaining and unsettling all at the same time. Somewhere in the middle of this was a funny dance routine to ACDC’s ‘Thunderstruck’, but then… it’s very difficult to track where this goes. Esoteric to say the least, there’s drama, conflict, possibly the destruction of the environment, perhaps the entire planet… its subsequent rebirth and/or regeneration? A large inflatable flamingo and a blow-up tent feature and there is a great deal of choreography, but one wouldn’t want to nail one’s colours to any single explanation. HOWEVER, amongst an ocean of comedy, straight-up theatre and cabaret this is surely what the festival is all about.
The fact we’re still sat here thinking about it highlights the vital nature of having something completely unexpected and inexplicable put in front of you.
Reviewer: Roger Jacobs
Reviewed: 6th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: