Very few playwrights explore the intricate problems associated with switching one's arms with their legs. The burgeoning Kevin Kerr looks at this idiosyncratic occurrence and much, much more in Theatre Calgary's staging of Freewheel's Skydive.
Kerr's words thrust the audience into the world of extreme agoraphobic Morgan (James Sanders) and his boy-man brother Daniel (Bob Frazer) as they traverse through their dreams and memories, in addition to their discoveries of themselves through these experiences. Daniel continually attempts to practice his own form of therapy on his anxious brother, while Morgan works to simply get out of his house. Their journey culminates in an ill-fated skydive, leaving things on a melancholy note.
The play skillfully straddles the line between completely hilarious and sorely heartwrenching, with the brothers alternating between ridiculous lip-syncing bouts and introspective moments that indicate how neither has really gained all the skills needed to deal with life's slings and arrows.
Some of the most endearing qualities come from the production's self-awareness, which works exceptionally well in revealing the mastery behind the play's unconventional execution. With both actors mounted on giant flight-inducing poles, Sven Johansson's aerial choreography adds a completely dynamic element to the production, conveying every word and concept in a striking and baffling visual way. The brothers move from falling into a dreamy state, to swimming underwater, to floating above the ground in a nail-biting, suspenseful scene. The ES Dance instrument operators do a fantastic job of maintaining fluidity to the actors' movement, making their soaring above the stage all the more believable.
Adrian Muir's lighting also adds influential ambiance to the production, conveying the unsettling mood of some of the dream sequences as well as the drastic panic of free fall with amazing clarity.
One criticism could be charted against the nostalgic song references throughout the production. Though completely enjoyable and provoking endless amounts of laughter from the audience, they start to grate after the fourth or so attempt.
Barring this, Skydive puts forth a completely amazing story, thriving on a well-written script and unconventional, striking visual conveyance of all the production's ideas. Exceptional acting by Sanders and Frazer pulls the audience into the relationship between Morgan and Daniel, leaving the production one of the best of the season so far and an exceptional notch in playwright Kerr's belt.