The problem with the phrase ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous’ is that it suggests the two are mutually exclusive; having seen Airnadette, I can assure you that this is not the case. This show takes the concept of the air guitar to the next level, performing an entire rock and roll masterpiece without singing or playing a single note – not a single instrument graces the stage during their hour long romp through classic tunes of the last forty odd years. Combine this with a wardrobe seemingly comprised of Ab-Fab rejects, a borderline homicidal MC and more pratfalls than a Charlie Chaplin marathon and you’ve got a show that on paper sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. However, this is a show put together by a talented troupe who knows exactly how to pull the strings of an audience. If you’re not on your feet by the end, you’ve just not let them work their magic.
A large part of the comedy lies in the ingeniously concocted script, which splices together phrases from films, TV shows and musicals as diverse as Legally Blonde, South Park and Star Wars with lightning speed. The show has some semblance of a plot, but nobody will mind if you haven’t a clue what’s going on – each scene is in its own right hilarious and oddly enthralling. Airnadette really plays on audience expectation and the surrealism of hearing the same actors deliver lines in entirely different voices from moment to moment. The character interactions are witty, fast paced and very, very funny. Everything has a wonderfully cartoon like quality which is very likeable and engaging, and even though the group are perhaps too keen on physical humour (someone hits the deck on average once every three or four minutes) the apparent ability of the cast to bounce off each other, the floor and the walls like children’s toys means that they were never down for long. Their MC and manager Jimmy Calzone is exceptionally well imagined by comedian Keith Farnan – and I don’t wish to give the game away, but it becomes clear about halfway through that Jimmy is world lip-sync champion for a reason.
The technical aspects of the show are spot on, particularly the sound engineering which makes the most of the old material used whilst sprucing it up with new sound effects and musical mashups. I particularly enjoyed the decision to retain the sound qualities of the original material – both musical and spoken – as it really showcased the range of the material used to create the show. There are decades’ worth of sound and comedy to enjoy, and their juxtaposition together is an absolute delight. Everyone will find both familiar and unfamiliar material to enjoy.
This is the kind of show which is ripe for a cult following. Airnadette aren’t currently filling out the Cow Barn at Underbelly, so this is your chance to get there first and start the biggest cult of the century, one fit for the self-branded biggest airband in the galaxy.