Rocking Your Authentic Self

On 14th of June, Airness celebrated its premier at the ThOP. A comedy about courage, revenge, and competition that leaves a laughing audience behind and shows: playing the air guitar is more than just pretending.

By Sofia Peslis

Pictures: Dirk Opitz

Nina (Natalie Meyer, r.) learns from Shreddy Eddy (Dorian Helbig). Picture: Dirk Opitz

Presented by the English Drama Workshop and directed by Karin Reilly, the ThOP production of Airness by Chelsea Marcantel introduces us to Nina O’Neil (Natalie Meyer), who is taking part in her first ever air guitar competition. Nina, or, as she is called throughout the performance, »The Nina« (because everybody who takes part in an air guitar competition needs a persona, no exceptions), enters the contest with the belief that victory will come easily. However, Nina swiftly discovers that air guitar is actually so much more than just making funny moves with your hands, and turns it into an opportunity to rock the stage by revealing her true self.


To master the art of playing the air guitar, you must master Airness. But what is that Airness-thing that everyone talks about? Nina’s competitors, Shreddy Eddy (Dorian Helbig), Golden Thunder (Zhengzhan Shang), Facebender (Gabriel Robinson), and Cannibal Queen (Pauline König) are strongly convinced:  »One can never understand Airness, one can only achieve it!«  So, after failing miserably at her first competition, Nina decides to learn everything there is to know about playing the air guitar, receiving personal coaching from her unexpected friends and passionate air guitar enthusiasts.

The competitors: Golden Thunder (Zhengzhan Shang), Facebender (Gabriel Robinson), Cannibal Queen (Pauline König) and Shreddy Eddy (Dorian Helbig, f.l.t.r.). Picture: Dirk Opitz

The play continues to move through various competitions that take place in different parts of the USA, introducing the audience more and more to the charismatic and unique characters. Talking about »unique« , one particular eye-catcher seems to be Facebender. One might at fist be confused about his appearance, as he is dressed up as an admiral from the 19th century but will quickly understand that all of this adds to his whole stage-persona. Another expressive character who is a standout in terms of acting is Cannibal Queen. Her commanding presence and infectious energy add an extra layer of intensity to the whole play. Generally, the side-characters add life and laughs to the plot as they are diverse and distinctive personalities.  

The stage space of the ThOP is used ideally: The main stage acts as the stage for the competitions, while the space in front of it serves as the backstage rooms. Especially striking is how flashbacks are played out. Whenever Nina decides to look at performances of her fellow competitors on the internet, the stage serves as the screen, adding a good dynamic energy to the whole play.

Typical revenge love story?

D Vicious (Phillip-Michael Schlöter) is the villain of the show. Picture: Dirk Opitz

Of course, you cannot have a good story without a villain, who in this case also serves as the tragic love interest. David »D Vicious« Cooper (Phillip-Michael Schlöter) plays the eccentric, arrogant rocker and alleged »star« of the show, who definitely takes too much pride in his latest Sprite commercial video. It might sound cliché…and that is exactly what it is. Despite all the humorous and technically good elements of the play, it still has a standard plotline and predictable events. The shocking plot twist is not actually that shocking: Nina reveals that she is D Vicious’s ex-fiancée, whom he left because the fame (and presumably women) got into his head, and now seeks revenge by destroying the only thing that means something to him. It also seems to be the only small hole in the storyline: If D Vicious is really that oh-so-famous rockstar, how can it be that no one has ever heard of Nina nor knows that he was engaged?

»Everything we need to rock is already inside us.«

The play ends with a big showdown. Picture: Dirk Opitz

Nevertheless, the typical revenge love story combined with apt humour seems to work. To quote D Vicious, who for once hits the nail on the head: »If it works, work it, man!« There has not been a minute during the premier where the audience could hold back their laughter, which must be the best reward for a comedy play. Simplicity is key and it shows that one doesn’t need much to create a successful comedy: good acting, straightforward funny jokes and brilliant song choices turn everything into a successful play that is worth a visit.

The ending rounds everything up and leaves a satisfying and happy feeling that matches the storyline. After all, Airness transfers the always beautiful message that the most profound truths are found in the simplest of joys – like strumming an imaginary guitar and letting the music take you to extraordinary heights.

You can see Airness at the ThOP on June 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30 and July 1. The show starts at 8.15pm.

, ,
Geschrieben von
Mehr von Sofia Peslis
»Man sollte sich nicht allzu sehr in den eigenen Text verlieben«
Neben dem Beruf ein Buch schreiben? Dozent und Journalist Sven Grünewald erzählt...
Mehr lesen
Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert