Tonight I got to experience Air Waves (Part Three Of The Elements Cycle) at Cleveland PUBLIC theatre. Therefore, I got to experience Raymond Bobgan and his sapient vision. And what a joyous vision it is. This is my first visitation to the world of creationist theatre. Building out of nothing, a story is grown through raw energy, talent and a visceral evolution. It thrives at CPT, and Bobgan was recognized by “American Theatre Magazine,” as one of 25 theatre artists who are working to shape the next 25 years of theatre in America. Working with a number of local actors and writers, this is a collaboration and celebration of artists and artistry.
As you enter the space, tables have been set up with questions on them. You get to read several statements that are proposed to answer and provoke thought. In front of me was “I crave more…….” Myriad responses, some highlighted with colored dots of agreement. My answer was…… Justice. “Hosts” join the audience at their tables, providing insight and discussion about how the evening is going to move. At my table were hosts Darius Stubbs and Caitlin Lewins, who are both excellent throughout the evening and quite the tag team. This particular adventure begins with George (Adam Seeholzer), Jeannette (Cassie Neumann), and Kim (Faye Hargate). Hargate’s character leads a city-wide initiative to buy the air over people’s houses. Each character is beautifully created. The first song, “De Bo Gah,” written by Bobgan, is a Buddhist delight. Helen (Molly Andrews-Hinders), Tina (Dionne Atchison) and Therese (Carly Garinger) knock it out of the temple. These actresses also excel through the evening’s proceedings.
We then move to a new space with a simple arrangement of chairs, and are soon listening to four women with significant messages, and also magnificent voices. Created by Molly Andrews-Hinders, this scene provokes us to listen and relish in the compromise. Speaking of the music, it’s excellent. The harmonies are clear and hauntingly effective. In moments, we are on an airplane watching Jonathan (an engaging Jeremy Lewis) facing final thoughts and decisions. The cast creates some kick ass motion sickness in interpreting a landing which is not what most of us would hope for. The interlude “Air Pool” is powerful, and reminds me what might happen if Ghandi and Cirque Du Soleil would have collaborated. It is visually exciting and inventive.
Physically, we move again, and what awaits us is Daryl and the Queen. Both are played with ferocious intensity and comedic brilliance by Chris Seibert. Not to give anything away, but this came out of nowhere, and I am still processing what happened to me. Siebert’s performance is so strong that if the next hurricane isn’t named after her, I’m gonna be pissed. Moving along, we meet Hargate again, who Carol Burnetts her way to a self meditation session that had me renewing my Xanax prescription when I got home.
The subway provides a backdrop for some continued courageous work by Caitlin Lewins playing the mom, Cassie Neumann (Jeannette), and Nate Miller (Rumpelstiltskin). They do so much during this show but their work here, addressing a simple yet complex medical issue that affects so many of us, is heartbreaking. Newmann’s Jeannette is engaging in every aspect, and leaves each scene throughout the night with incredible truth. Now it’s game time, but a game that makes emotions and truths, the weapon. Renee Schilling and Lauren Joy Fraley as Contestant #1 and #2 respectively, kill this scene. Their deft choices and extreme focus are mesmerizing.
Act II brings the question, “What if you could ask someone from the future what to watch out for? And if you could go back, what would you change?” My answer was to end the virus at the beginning.
We now are following the journey of George (played with endearing and emotional depth by Seehozler) as he battles his loss. Watching someone split themselves open in order to reconnect is a struggle that many of us experience. And he nails it. Before we say goodbye, we meet Ford and Edison (Schilling and Fraley, respectively). This scene is a scream. I just want them to know that I want to apply for the driver on their tour bus. They are a Broadway play waiting to happen. After the laughs, we are met with the end resolve. George and Jeannette finally come to terms, of sorts. The evening left me with one burning statement: “It’s all one breath. It’s what we do with it.” Every scene asks the same question. What do we do with our breath, with our air that we are so lucky to have? How do we treat the air, this gift of life? So many questions wrestle in my brain. There are so many reasons why I was so happy to see this play.
To everyone in this production, congratulations. All of these actors contribute so much in every scene. Ali Garrigan costumes the show with flair, and Benjamin Gantose’s lighting design engulfs the show with dramatic effect. Thank you, Mr. Bobgan, for bringing this fresh approach to theatre and guiding it to life. You take all the actors and playwrights with you, and the best part is that the audience gets to ride along.
Kevin Joseph Kelly
Staff and Cast:
Director: Raymond Bobgan
Featuring Molly Andrews-Hinders, Dionne Atchison, Melissa Crum, Lauren Fraley, Carly Garinger, Faye Hargate, Caitlin Lewins, Jeremy Lewis, Nate Miller, Cassie Neumann, Renee Schilling, Adam Seeholzer, Chris Seibert, Darius Stubbs, and
January 30-February 15
7:30pm Thursdays (Monday and Thursday performances $12)
7:30pm Fridays (FREE BEER FRIDAY after the show)
7:30pm Mondays (Monday and Thursday performances $12)
$12-$28 General Admission
(216) 631-2727 extension 501
Cleveland Public Theatre
Gordon Square Theatre
6415 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44102