Washington Post: AIRNESS


In Airness, the axes are invisible but the play is loud

It’s a good thing invisible guitars don’t cost real money or the Keegan Theatre would be racking up thousands of dollars in damages each night.

In the company’s entertaining presentation of Chelsea Marcantel’s play Airness, co-produced with 1st Stage, characters infuse their competitive air-guitar performances with heartfelt exuberance, frequently smashing their imaginary instruments on the floor in a climactic frenzy. The strutting, jumping mock-concert sequences are droll and engrossing. They also help the play reflect on the nature and purpose of art, illustrating the exhilaration that can come from creating something out of nothing.

Under Christina A. Coakley’s direction, able acting draws out the humor, poignancy and warmth of this work, helping the production get past touches of stiffness.

The deliberately scruffy set, with its bar stools and fading posters, highlights just how far the competitors have to travel in their imaginations to project themselves into a realm of multiplatinum glamour.

But it’s choreographer Jessica Redish who supplies the show’s crucial aesthetic touches, filling the competitors’ onstage sequences with leaps, sashays, punk tantrums and tango pivots. Watching this joyous physicality, we understand how these oddball characters find fulfillment and catharsis in rockin’ out on nonexistent frets and strings.