As Alex and Colin sit side-by-side, hand-in-hand, they recall their youth and former lovers as if reliving the events and relationships for the first time here in the present. This play meets the two men as they spend their last days in the care home to which each of them has been relegated by their families. Deeply poetic, Something in the Air explores the refuge of recollection through which we as an audience gather the bittersweet experience of being a gay man in the 20th century.
Directed and written by Peter Gill, this one-act play is more meditation than action, but with the addition of Alex and Colin’s former partners Nicholas (James Schofield) and Gareth (Sam Thorpe-Spinks), we see their youth take shape before us. The show’s pace is also aided by the presence of Alex’s son Andrew (Andrew Woodall) and Colin’s niece Clare (Claire Price). Their semi-regular visits to the care home give way to chat and a little flirtation that proves hope exists even in the most unlikely of places.
Performances by the company are charming, tender, and nuanced. Ms. Price is lovely and genuine, Mr. Schofield aptly communicates the charge of heated youthful relationships, and Mr. Woodall though abrupt is entirely believable as the pained son of someone who has lost their wits. But it is the two performances at the centre of the piece that strike me as remarkable: Ian Gelder’s sweet and affirming Colin and Christopher Godwin’s focused and fleeting Alex.
Something in the Air is poignant and heartbreaking. Alex and Colin have visitors, yes, but the visiting family mostly busy themselves with paperwork and reading. One wonders if the visits aren’t a mere result of guilt more than care or interest. It is through one another, strangers with a newfound companionship, that Alex and Colin survive. It is a gift to an audience to hear about the rich, complicated, messy lives of these men in spite of their meandering and rambling because we see how they are neglected and forgotten. In spite of their lives confined to a care home, small and narrowing each day, we learn, remember and then honor their journey to now.
It runs until 12 November.
Review: Matthew Pierce Photo: Steve Gregson