This week’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint is a gripping, funny and on point two hander. Written by Anita Vettesse, whose work includes River City, and featuring actors Angela Darcy (as Claire) and David McGowan (as Pete), this is high quality theatre. The piece follows a married couple as the wife struggles with phobias, specifically that of a fear of flying (hence the title).
Multimedia helps us get inside the head of Claire and have a feel for what it’s like to experience an intense level of debilitating anxiety. The on screen visuals and soundscape are helpful tools too in immersing us in the atmosphere and turning scenes on a pinhead. With a lot of contrast and regular switches from angsty moments to funny ones, it’s smart to use technology like this. Two person shows can quickly become tedious to modern audiences accustomed to entertainment that comes hard, fast and infinitely varied, but thanks to the accomplished acting on display and imaginative staging, that doesn’t happen here.
Angela Darcy is the kind of actor from whom others should watch and learn. Often actors in a venue of this size are theatrical in a manner that makes them look like they’re performing and on stage – it’s a tricky line to walk, because after all they are. They need to project and be “big” enough to fill the space, but still be believable and utterly real as the character. Here Darcy does exactly that. Her mannerisms may be exaggerated for theatrical effect, but she does so in a way that reaches every corner of the theatre, but yet appears to be absolutely someone you could meet in real life. And she’s funny, detailed in her portrayal, bringing out every nuance of Claire. David McGowan too is excellent and real, providing the perspective of the partner for whom the phobia seems nonsensical and hard to relate. They seem a “normal” couple, the kind all of us know, thanks to the interplay and chemistry built by Darcy and McGowan.
The subject of phobia is handled intelligently, relatably and with plenty of well-placed humour. Toward the end of the play the plot takes a twist toward a focus on the couple’s relationship cracks, which is emotive, although somewhat worn ground thematically.
With a satisfying yet open-ended finish, From The Air is strong and enjoyable throughout.