Omnibus Theatre, Clapham – until 29 February 2020
Reviewed by Riley Anderson
The themes explored in Flights are timeless, and for anybody who has been exposed to Irish theatre of late, probably nothing new.
We meet our characters Cusack (Connor Madden), Barry (Colin Campbell), and Pa (Rhys Dunlop) who join each other on a stormy night in a tarpaulin covered shed in rural west Ireland. They join each other to remember their friend Liam, who died 17 years ago aged 17. Although ‘The Lads’ are in their thirties, they quickly resume the jovial, laddish behaviour you’d expect to see in 17/18 year old lads.
Their lives have clearly taken them different directions and it becomes apparent early on that they are each dealing with their own issues. Even through the surface of laughs and jokes and drinks and smokes, there is a melancholy that starts to slowly break through to centre stage.
The fist reveal that opens up the story more melancholic notions is when Pa reveals that Barrys girlfriend has been sleeping with another of their friends. This comes as a surprise to Barry as they were supposed to be moving to London on the Sunday. At this stage in the play the drinking increases, the drug taking increases and swathes of emotion and trauma fill the auditorium.
The characterisation and narrative are second to-non, the performances are nuanced, tactile and offer the audience a real insight into the struggle each character is facing, whether it be grief, inadequacy or love. There is a real sense of journey, exploring where the lads lives deviated, what pulls them back together, and how the passing of their friend Liam has effected them, and with each character delivering a monologue as Liam, we see a few shades of nostalgic colour on bleak, grey night.
At two and half hours long, the play does run a little dry toward the end and could perhaps do with being three quarters of an hour shorter, nevertheless, the play has its lighter moments and manages to entertain throughout. Given the bleak circumstance, it’s still good craic and encapsulates the enduring nature of the human being.