Frisson. It means ‘goosebumps’ or a sudden experience of thrill, fear or shivery excitement… you know, that feeling like hundreds of tiny angels are tap-dancing on your skin. According to research, not everybody experiences frisson in relation to works of art. But I’ll bet there was a whole lot of frisson going on at the UK premiere of Air Play at Southbank Centre Festival of Love last night.
Air Play is just so bouncy and beautiful, I was smiling throughout and holding my breath at points. Dancing umbrellas, flying fabrics, cavorting kites and balloons with a life of their own… One especially sparkly scene gave me frisson all over (sorry, no spoilers).
Circus comedians Seth and Christina of Acrobuffos collaborated with air sculptor Daniel Wurtzel to create a show that captures the innocence and wonder of childhood. It’s aimed at kids ages 5+ but there’s enough to dazzle any age.
The husband and wife duo pull surprises out of suitcases, defy gravity with clever use of fans, and perform clownery that feels like magic. At times they climb through the audience, inviting willing participants to join in the fun. One of my favourite bits was seeing the utter delight and anticipation of a little boy about to bat a giant balloon back into play.
‘Is the show about balloons?’ My 10 year old asked after about 15 minutes. Partly, but it’s about so much more.
Air Play is a spectacular, very funny and occasionally poignant study of relationships as told through floating objects. The flights of fancy, tugs of war, and folding of sheets in marriage. The impossible to contain feelings that bounce around between friends and lovers; sometimes deflating, sometimes exploding. The simple joys that bind us, even after loss.
And yes, balloons. Lots and lots of balloons. You’ll be floating out of the theatre afterwards.
Air Play: Babes Review
by Ezra (10) and Jed (7)
‘The show was about having fun with objects that could float through the air. I liked it when they were catching tiny balloons in the butterfly nets and I was surprised by how many balloons they had! It was also funny when they were using a leaf blower to blow the balloons back onto the stage. And bouncing in the giant balloons. I would definitely recommend the show to my friends.’ – Ezra
‘I liked it when they were touching the balloons and it was playing music and when they stopped touching it, then it wasn’t. I thought that was funny and also when they were inside the balloons. I give the show 5 stars!’ – Jed
Air Play is just one hour long, which gave us a little extra time to explore some of the Southbank Centre and Festival of Love before heading home.
We stopped for an evening treat at the Snog double decker bus, enjoying our frozen yoghurt treats upstairs with great views of the sunset over the Thames. Frisson, baby.
Air Play is at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX (Embankment tube/Waterloo tube, rail). For ages 5+. 2pm (Thu-Fri), 2pm & 7pm (Sat-Sun); £10-£25/concs. half price (until Aug 14). Visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/air-play-97403