WhatsOnStage Logo

Letting in Air

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
WhatsOnStage logo
Box of Tricks Theatre, a company dedicated to supporting new writers, obviously know when they are on to a good thing. Letting in Air is Becky Prestwich’s second full-scale production. The first, Streetlights and Shadows, was also produced by the company and the partnership works well.

Letting in Air explores family relationships and the meaning of home. After the suicide of his mother Adam returns home to Manchester with his girlfriend and attempts to form some sort of a bond with his father, Frank. When Frank befriends a teenager, Amy, whom he meets in the street, Adam is both suspicious and jealous. As Frank and Amy become closer, Frank reveals a secret which is to change all their lives. Despite the underlying conflicts, humour is used excellently throughout which makes the few moments of violence all the more brutal.

Rebecca Elliot’s Amy is a hyperactive and troubled teenager with a singular way of seeing the world. But it is her childlike questioning and honesty which coaxes Frank into confronting the past. The chemistry between Amy and Frank (a superbly reserved Edmund Kente) sparkles from the outset.

It would be easy to let Amy and Frank’s relationship dominate, but director Adam Quayle avoids this by ensuring a strong performance from the other two actors. Ryan Hawley’s Adam manages a mixture of misogyny and vulnerability. Tessa Mabbitt gives an understated and convincing performance as Olivia, Adam's Guardian-reading girlfriend whose attempts to resolve conflict are doomed to failure.

Charlie Cridlan’s set consists of little more than a chair, two bookshelves and a pile of boxes. There is no need for anything else and the simplicity adds to the production. More obvious differentiation between Frank’s house and Adam and Olivia’s flat would have be useful, but sound effects and well directed behaviour prevent this from being too confusing.

The final scene of Letting in Air shows for the first time a flicker of the new beginning that they all crave. The abrupt ending is the weakest moment in an otherwise smooth and powerful production. There is a sense that Prestwich was not ready to let go of her creations, and you can see why. As the house lights go up it is a hardened audience member who does not regret parting with them as well.

- Joanna Ing


Tagged in this Story