By Liz Eichler
“Everything you need to rock is inside you” is the theme of this morality play that you can’t help love. “Airness” is a new show by Chelsea Marcantel playing now through November 7 produced by Dayton’s professional Human Race Theatre.
You may not know that there really are Air Guitar Competitions, but there are. Considered “serious pretend” by the thousands of people across the world who participate (HERE’s the link to 2021 World Championships so you can see for yourself) they have 60 seconds to demonstrate the skills of their persona. Or, 60 seconds for “an extension of your soul.”
The show does a great job of educating us on this new “art form.” You can substitute any niche activity–or not niche activity–that transports us, gives a sense of belonging, and makes us happy and you will know that this is a play about the importance of community, hope, and friendship.
In “Airness,” a diverse group of air guitar aficionados welcome a newbie who has hope of competing in the national championship. The story unfolds with more complications, but ultimately good triumphs. The show features a talented and enthusiastic group of performers who are all in to show us how to achieve “Airness.” Directed by Jamie Cordes, the show moves quickly, but has a few really tender moments, including a standout scene where “Face Bender” explains his real life to newbie Nina. It is interesting to follow all the main characters when they are donning their stage personas (Shreddy Eddy, Golden Thunder, Face Bender, Cannibal Queen, D Vicious), but each character purposely drops the personas and we can see the real person underneath (Ed Leary, Mark Lender, Astrid Anderson and Gabe Partridge).
There’s a lot of classic guitar cuts to love and you know them all. Sound Designer Jay Brunner must have had a lot of fun compiling them, and they are never as loud as a real rock concert! Costume Designer Janet G. Powell helped the actors create unique personas for their characters, and Lighting Designer John Rensel features them well, especially during each solo. The setting is assorted gritty bars and backstages, well designed by Dick Block, and lovingly built and painted by Isaac Harris and Alexander Capaneka. Also credited is Air Guitar Consultants–Cleveland Air Guitar.
Underneath the outlandish costumes are some serious acting chops and wicked moves. Drew Vidal (Mark “FACEBENDER” Lender) has a masterful monologue. Andrew Ian Adams (Gabe “GOLDEN THUNDER” Partidge) brings so much joy! Zack Steele (Ed “SHREDDY EDDY” Leary) is the leader of the group and connects with the new girl, Nina. Allison Kelly (Nina “THE NINA” O’Neal) is awkward, intense and ultimately achieves “airness.” Rasell Holt (David “D VICIOUS” Cooper) has impressive moves and makes us love him and despise him. An intriguing new face commanding the Human Race stage is Reanne Acasio (Astrid “CANNIBAL QUEEN” Anderson) who can flit between range, friendship, joy and passion and back again in an instant, and I would definitely like to see this talent again in the area. Also, James Roselli (Announcer / Sprite Exec / Hooded Figure) pops up with energy throughout.
“Airness” is a 100-minute smile fest. Get your tickets HERE.
Next up at Human Race: “Who’s Holiday” is the story of how Cindi Lou grew up — for adults only! December 2-19.
Liz Eichler has been a professional costumer and arts marketer in NJ, IN, DE, SC and OH. She has an MTA in Theatre and MBA in Marketing, currently teaching at University of Dayton, and has been a member of LCT for over 10 years.