When I read the programme listing for this piece of physical theatre, I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite films of all time, Up. Surely, I thought, they wouldn't be so unwise as to mimic something so iconic. But they were, and they did. Even to the point of using the soundtrack from the movie.
Michael (Ross Spaine) and Maria (Marga Villalonga) play an elderly couple, who have grown old together and then receive the devastating news that one of them is terminally ill. Maria has a number of bucket-list wishes before she dies, including robbing a bank, becoming the President and flying to the moon. Husband Michael is determined to help her fulfil them.
At the beginning, I liked the visualisation of the ageing process whilst dancing to the Lindy Hop, and the choices of music throughout the piece were good. But it soon became an uncomfortable experience: the two characters swore gratuitously, and the earnest movements around the stage were spoiled by clumsy exits and numerous scene changes. I felt that neither of the performances was really accomplished enough to pull such a difficult storyline off.
In a highly visual show, when props are used so close to the audience, they need to be realistic; money printed on the back of memo notes and tic tacs used for hard drugs just didn't quite cut it. There were technical problems with the sound effects too, which meant that one scene was potentially spoilt.
Worst of all, the final scene involved – you may have guessed it – a flotilla of balloons and a dead body. I was willing them not to attempt what I was afraid that they might try to do, but they did, and it was a toe-curling moment. I don't want to deflate anyone's balloon, but some clichéd ideas and stumbles in execution make it hard to recommend this production.