“Any fears or anxieties you’d like to share?”
I am solidly confident in my assertion.
Susie Riddell, performer and co-director of Idiot Child, agrees with me and makes note.
What if the plane falls out of the sky? is a lecture, a workshop, a boot camp designed to relieve us of our innermost fears and nightmares through a series of strange and worrisome self-help exercises. Our fears are scribbled onto notepads, drawn on pieces of construction paper and hung up like children’s artwork (I drew a xenomorph. HR Giger has considerable influence over my nightmares). There is a glitter painting ceremony to the tune of I Want To Know What Love Is and an initiation ritual involving taxidermied vermin. And we all get badges!
Beneath this veneer of a slightly terrifying mindfulness away day, a sinister plot brews. Abandoned siblings Heron, Magpie and Feral Pigeon await the return of their parents, who disappeared many years ago. In their absence, the eldest sibling Heron has constructed a cult-like lifestyle inspired by a breakdown/vision where ‘an American human man’ named Jeff appeared in her utility room and told her the secret to a happy life. We are their very first inductees into their new belief system, and as the siblings work to relieve us of our extra-terrestrial night terrors, the cracks in their philosophy begin to show.
It’s equal parts pitch-black and zany – a bit like if Philip Ridley made an exercise video with Richard Simmons. There is some audience participation, which is offset by some free snacks and a mojito (and of course the aforementioned badges). The three performers are committed and incredibly sweet as overgrown children clamouring to make sense of an unkind world. Susie Riddell punctures all the rainbows and sparkles of the piece with genuine anxiety as her well-appointed world falls down around her, Adam Fuller exposes his heart and the majority of his skin to the audience as middle-child Magpie and Emma Keaveny-Roys’ Feral Pigeon is wide-eyed and sharply funny.
Though the plot is thinly spread over an hour of ever-wackier affirmations and antics, against the odds, the trick of the play works. I am releasing my anxieties into a half-inflated balloon, I am dancing in glitter, I am waving my hands in the air and cheering I AM A FUCKING HERO and accepting my badge with pride. Perhaps it’s a case of faking it til you make it, but the siblings’ wild-eyed commitment to positivity amidst the darkness is contagious. They are laughing wildly amidst severest woe, and by the end of the play, so are we.
Still legitimately worried about the aliens, though.
What if the plane falls out of the sky? is on at Shoreditch Town Hall until 20th May 2017. Click here for more details.