BWW Review: AIRNESS at Keegan Theatre
"What does air guitar teach us? Everything we need to rock, is already inside us" is a line that the character of Golden Thunder delivers midway through this fun and fresh play. It's a line that sums up this play for me: air guitarists competing nationally and internationally, doing so because they love it, and making relationships, helping and sometimes finding out more about each other and themselves along the way.
Airness by Chelsea Marcantel is in its DC premiere run at Keegan Theatre, co-produced by 1st. Stage. The play centers around six characters (D Vicious, The Nina, Golden Thunder, Shreddy Eddy, Facebender, and Cannibal Queen) who devote themselves to entering and performing in air guitar competitions around the nation and the world. The Nina, played by Billie Krishawn, is the fresh face in the group and quickly realizes that there is much more to the pact than merely competing. The Nina quickly realizes more about her past relationship with the raining Air Guitar World Champion - D Viscious. Through the group, other members: Golden Thunder, Shreddy Eddy, Facebender, and Cannibal Queen learn more about themselves and their own relationships.
Airness is a good play that provides a lot of laughs, characters that are relatable - some more than others and tunes that make you want to strum along. I appreciated the meshing of the personal lives and journies of each character with their passion behind the art of air guitar and what it means to them. Some, it meant a hobby, a place to fit in, a chance to let go, be free, and have fun, while for others it was merely for attention. It was an interesting concept for a play, but all in all, felt well-executed.
The very talented cast of Airness truly shined in this production. I want to especially commend Billie Krishawn's riveting performance as The Nina, Dani Stoller's electric Cannibal Queen and Chris Stezin as the humorous, big-hearted Facebender. Another special aspect was having Forrest A. "The Fahking Rockr" Hainline IV in the cast as the Announcer. Forrest was a national air guitar competitor and champion which lead to performances at other venues such as the 9:30 club. The dynamic between him and the cast was special to watch.
The production also felt cohesive, well designed and well performed all around. Christina A Coakley's provided excellent and sharp direction. Matthew J. Keenan's clever three-part set transported us into the competition stage, backstage, and bar worlds quite well. John D. Alexander's expert lighting design added strokes of genius to air guitar performances and scenes alike. Kenny Neal's sound design was a perfect fit for the show. Another design element that was noteworthy - Jessica Redish's choreography. When I thought about how fun the air guitar performances were, of course, Redish was behind those movements. Excellent work in design all around.
Airness is sure to put a smile on your face and get you clapping and perhaps tapping your feet. It's a show that's meant to introduce you to a world you may not be familiar with. However, by the end, you will be glad that you took the step in. Keegan's production in conjunction with 1st Stage is a whole lot of rockin' fun!
Airness plays at the Keegan Theatre located at 1742 Church Street NW, Washington, DC 20036 through November 30, 2019. For tickets please click here.
Photo Credits: keegantheatre.com