|Christina Gelsone and Seth Bloom in "Air Play"|
The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. 24th – 26th February 2023.
5.00pm matinee on 25th February reviewed by Bill Stephens
This is one of those one-off magical shows that you really do need to experience for yourself to appreciate.
Devised in collaboration with sculptor Daniel Wurtsel, and performed by New York based husband and wife duo, Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, “Air Play” has been touring internationally since 2015, and been seen by an estimated audience of 150,000 to date.
Prior to creating “Air Play”, Bloom had been a juggler and Gelsone a ballerina. Both had trained extensively in clowning before they met in a circus in Afghanistan. They became engaged while street performing in Scotland and married in China.
Naturally they decided to pool their talents and form a professional partnership in 2005, and quickly gained a reputation for creating original work that challenges genres and mines big laughs without words.
“Air Play” is their seventh creation and their clowning skills are put to good use in this mesmerising show which utilises balloons, umbrellas, kites and the cleverly harnessed power of wind to create a continuous stream of ravishing images.
The willing audience is quickly seduced into taking sides in the playful onstage battle of the sexes, as each tries to outdo the other in inventing clever and inventive ways to play with, or even wear, balloons.
Sometimes it’s just one or two large red and yellow balloons, which float mesmerizingly high above the stage. Acres of shiny silk float right out over the heads of the captivated audience into the auditorium before suddenly curling back on to the stage to form huge airborne sculptures.
At one point a team of bright yellow balloons is tethered to the stage and manipulated like airborne piano keys. Later a huge army of baby red balloons are released to swirl above the stage then showered with glitter to create the biggest and most splendid evocation of a snow dome imaginable.
Clever use of music is integral to the success of the show. The ominous opening bars of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” heralds a storm of umbrellas. A sublime version of Eric Sartie’s “Gymnopedies” blisses the audience as silks float dreamily overhead. Sonny Bono’s “Bang Bang” alerts the audience to an explosive big red balloon.
Blissful moments are punctuated by hearty laughs throughout this clever show in which clever clowning and highly polished physical skills masks the complexities involved in performing this magical show intent on ensuring that its audience will leave the theatre floating on air.
|Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone in "Air Play"|
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au