2 June 2012

A Slow Air at the Tricycle

Something about the blurb on the Tricycle web site convinced me to give A Slow Air a try, and I'm so glad that I did.

My only mistake was being optimistic about public transport on a Sunday afternoon the end result of which was that I ran in to theatre with just seconds to spare.

At least that solved the problem of where to sit.

The options were very limited (it's always good to see a busy theatre) as was the time available to make a decision so I plunged in to the first of the elevated rows at the very back of the stalls and took one of the seats left empty due to a metal pillar that threaten to obscure my view but then did nothing of the sort.

Athol walks on to the darkened stage and starts to tell us his story. He's a forty-something builder born and bred in Scotland who lives with his long-standing wife. He tells us something about his younger sister Morna.

Athol's side of the stage goes dark and Morna's lights up as she tells her side of the story. Athol is steady, dependable and even boring whereas Morna is brash, confrontational and flighty. She swears a lot.

Between them, Athol and Morna tells us a story about their lives, why they've not spoken for fourteen years, and how Morna's son Joshua is involved in this.

As with most conversations, there is a general sense of direction but there are frequent changes of direction to relevant points in the past. Through this we learn a lot more about the two protagonists both of whom come across as likable in their own way.

The story drives the narrative but it is the characters that make the story and you quickly come to care deeply about both Athol and Morna as they sweep you through the emotional turmoil that their lives have become. It is superb drama.

Athol is pretty steady through all this whereas Morna flies quickly between moods with aggression and love both prominent. It is because of this that Morna is the more important character and so the bulk of the acting burden falls on Susan Vidler who carries it off with aplomb and then some. She is fantastic. So much so that I hung around for a little while after the show to tell her so.

A Slow Air is theatre that engulfs you and demands a large emotional commitment so that it is surprise, a disappointment and a relief when it finally ends and we are thrown back in to our real worlds. It's brilliant.

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