Alex Berdugo reviews Broken Air, appearing at One Church as part of Brighton Fringe.
The One Church was superb venue for a Brighton Fringe event such as Broken Air. The magisterial architecture created a spiritual aura, with the church organ and altar providing the perfect setting for an existential performance. The seats were formed in a semi-circle around actor Paul Attmere, the solo performer in Broken Air.
The event aimed to explore the conditions and significance of the death of Peter Lanyon, a genius artist renowned for his ambition and an extreme lust for life. The landscape painter tragically died after a gliding accident that sent him to hospital with a minor back injury. Broken Air imitates the emotional and mental rollercoaster Lanyon was left in as he lay in his hospital bed. Attmere was not afraid to delve into a side of Lanyon’s imagination that was primitive, unstable, and very unpredictable.
Attmere made full use of a number intriguing props. He was surrounded by unusual objects such as a shoe full of sand, a white bedsheet and a mysterious suitcase full of unknown contents. The choreography proved to be incredibly innovative. The objects where carefully manipulated to convey a certain meaning and transform the imaginary environment. For instance, the bedsheet would be folded to represent an envelope one minute, then wrapped around Attmere’s waist as a bath towel another minute. This was arguably the strongest aspect of Broken Air; the creativity with the limited props was entertaining to watch throughout, always leaving us guessing what the next five minutes of the show had in store.
The sound and lighting also played a large role in the performance. The audio added a new dimension, complimenting Attmere’s dialogue with music and speech where appropriate. The lights varied in intensity and colour, psychedelic enough to make the other-worldly scenarios believable.
When the performance finished, we were left feeling like we knew the late Peter Lanyon on a personal level. It was an intimate show that was dynamic and fantastically imaginative. Attmere was kind enough to answer questions and made sure his audience felt involved with Broken Air. Overall, it was an eye-opening show and one of the most engaging Brighton Fringe events so far!