Photo from Ghosts

Love is in the Air

I am going to begin my review of Love is in the Air, conceived by Dustin Helmer and produced by Pig Brooch Inc., with a paradox: I did not enjoy my time at this show, and I am going to recommend highly that you go and see it. Clearly, an explanation is called for. Love is in the Air is a piece heavily dependent upon the conventions of silent films (more Charlie Chaplin than Buster Keaton). And the truth of that matter is, I find little to no enjoyment in the form. Were Chaplin himself on the stage performing, I would be bored to tears.

That said, there is no reason for those who created this piece to suffer because of my aesthetic bias. First, the story works well within the Chaplin-esque frame. Helmer himself plays Henry, a Little Tramp-like character. The Devil (Seth Powers) decides he wants Henry’s soul and sets before him a series of temptations and disappointments. One such temptation is in the form of Aimee LaBlatte (Thessa M’loe Klocke), after whom Henry lusts. His advances are thwarted by her wealthy boyfriend Valentino (Justin Tyler, the company’s artistic director). While Henry is occupied with Aimee, he does not fully appreciate the affections of Plain Jane (Jennie Smith). Moving throughout is the Man of Many Faces (Kyle Knauf) who seems to end all of his scenes with a heart attack. While much of the sentimentality in the show has its roots in Chaplin’s work, the ending of the piece does not.

Second, a great deal of effort went into this production. Often shows in the Fringe are under-rehearsed. However, Pig Brooch has presented a highly polished, thoroughly rehearsed piece. Helmer and Paul Peers, the director, have created a strange but consistent world that has its own working logic. All of this work and preparation is a necessity since so much of what they do is dependent on physical comedy. Only one character speaks during the entire show, and then only rarely.

The cast is uniformly excellent as well. Again, a problem one frequently confronts at this level of production is that smaller parts are poorly cast (often because it is difficult to get talented actors to take roles with little stage time). But everyone here is right for their roles, and gives all of their inspiration and perspiration to the performance. That they all connected with the audience is especially impressive given that they do not speak. As the Devil’s familiars, Peter Harmelin, Sasha Kaye, and Jordan Wishner perform their roles with great physical grace. Knauf plays his multiple roles well, and Tyler is appropriately over-the-top as the snobbish suitor. Both Smith and Klocke occupy the opposite ends of the Madonna/Whore spectrum extremely well. And Powers brings gusto to his role of the moustache-twirling Devil. Special attention must be paid to Helmer who is the show’s center. He is an extremely talented performer and will be someone to look for in the years to come.

There is much to recommend Love is in the Air. And if this style of theatre is your cup of tea, I am sure you will have a thoroughly enjoyable experience.


reviewed by Anthony Pennino -