AIR PLAY at the Oxford Playhouse

Enter a world of visual feasts, surreal absurdity and hilarious clowning. For this is the world of Acrobuffos, husband and wife team, Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, who create and perform their shows all over the world. In Air Play, we see two childlike siblings at play using ordinary objects which transform into the extraordinary. Umbrellas, balloons, silks and even packing foam is literally blown into the air by a choreographed bank of fans and together with clever lighting design, creates magic before our eyes. Special mention should be given to air sculptor, Daniel Wurtzel who has collaborated on this piece.

The duo are also gifted clowns who form a brilliant rapport with their audience, clambering over seats to rescue balloons and getting people up onstage to catch tiny balloons in butterfly nets. Children and adults alike were literally squealing for joy with this interaction. There is a particularly funny scene where they completely crawl into huge balloons and end up with just their heads sticking out whilst they bounce around. This has to be seen to be believed.

Accompanying this amazing spectacle is an ever changing soundtrack which instantly alters the mood and resets the scene. Everything from Balkan folk music to Satie weaves through the characters’ journey, perfectly reflecting what we are viewing. The title Air Play is of course a marvellous play on words, encompassing the visual and the aural.

We experience all of this through the performers’ childlike interpretation and like children, we all become uninhibited in our responses. As well as being genuinely funny and breathtakingly beautiful, there are some poignant, heartfelt moments. This is not just a series of sketches, but an exploration of the complexities of relationships and making sense of the world.

As this is a show without dialogue, it is truly international and is also suitable for all ages. It will also work in many indoor spaces so I hope it is seen in as many places and by as many people as possible. A true gem.    ★★★★★   Karin André    13th January 2018