A Slow Air
A SLOW AIR
by David Harrower
A CANADIAN PREMIERE
Featuring Sharla Matkin and George Szilagyi
Directed by Wayne Paquette
Stage Managed by Joan Wyatt & Lore Green
Photographs by Mat Simpson
Poster and Programs by Tynan Boyd
Presented at the 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival
La Cite Francophone
Nominated for 2 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards
Outstanding Fringe Production (Blarney Productions)
Outstanding Actor in a Fringe Play (George Szilagyi)
A SLOW AIR
“We hadn’t spoken one word to each other in fourteen years, me and Morna. Not a word”.
Morna is a house cleaner for well-off families in Edinburgh.
Athol is the owner of a floor-tiling company in Glasgow.
Morna spends her time drinking, attempting affairs and trying to understand her solemn 21 year old son.
Athol spends his time with his wife, Evelyn, worries about his business, and is proud of his hard-won achievements.…
Like any brother and sister, they have fond and not so fond memories, differing views and opinions. And secrets.
When Morna’s son, Joshua, makes contact with Athol, he sets off, for all of them, a remarkable and life-changing series of events.
Blarney Productions presents this “irrestible… first rate story” (New York Times) written by Olivier Award winning playwright David Harrower (Blackbird)
“A taut showdown… Harrower deftly juggles the dual storytelling.”
– The New York Post
“Hofpeful as it is heart-stirring”
– The New York Daily News
* * * * *
The Edmonton Sun – Colin MacLean
As you first meet them, middle-aged brother and sister Athol and Morna are nobodies. The two have not spoken for 14 years – probably, you assume, they just grew bored with each other.
A Slow Air is a new play from Scottish playwright David Harrower (Blackbird). It’s an intimate family drama – one of four shows gifted director Wayne Paquette is bringing to the Fringe this year.
Harrower’s play may be small in scale but the characters take on a larger shape as the 75 minute production progresses. The two siblings address us, in full Scottish brogue, in a series of alternating and interrelated monologues. Even when they occupy the same room, they continue to narrate their feelings as if the other wasn’t there. It wasn’t boredom that drove their family apart. It was Morna’s need for a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and the pregnancy that followed. And now 14 years later, Morna’s son, Joshua (named after the U2 album), is having his 21st birthday and makes a covert effort to bring them together.
In the intervening years, Athol (George Szilagyi) has become vaguely angry and insecure. He’s a married building tradesman but feels as if life is passing him by. Morna (Sharla Matkin) still lives the rebellion of her youth but has become brittle — living a life of disappointment. Both are self-contained yet painfully reaching out for an understanding and acceptance they haven’t felt since Morna stormed out of the family. They have a lot to say but much of it exists in the shadows behind words that are never spoken.
At first Harrower’s words seem rambling and inconsequential but you soon realize that they are are precisely focussed and and keep moving toward a renewed sense of family and community. Perhaps in the hands of a less sensitive director and spoken by actors with less intelligence and vigour the results would lead to some boredom. The husband and wife team of Szilagyi and Matkin are fully committed to their characters giving them life-force energy and the feeling of truth.
What emerges is a vision of those things in our lives that push us apart and bind us together.
5 SUNS out of 5
The Edmonton Journal – Liz Nicholls
The middle-aged brother and sister at the heart of this compelling little two-hander by the Scottish playwright David Harrower aren’t standouts in the crowd.
Athol does home repair in a Glasgow suburb and knows his way around a flooring estimate. Morna, a faded good-time rebel chick, cleans posh people’s houses in Edinburgh. As she notes, their rather fanciful names are “a rare flash of poetry” from nondescript, conventional parents. Athol and Morna haven’t spoken to each other for 14 years.
Now that’s a grudge. And while they share a stage in Wayne Paquette’s Blarney production, the siblings have their own patch of turf on it, and their own alternating monologues.
Gradually, the ordinary surfaces of the play, and their lives, peel away, like the laminate Athol installs. There’s an unobtrusive intricacy, and quiet momentum, to the way this happens. And the husband-wife team of George Syzlagi and Sharla Matkin gradually makes the unexceptional into something remarkably vivid, in two fine interconnected performances.
When Morna’s son, a young graphic artist obsessed with a terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport, shows up at Athol’s place, the possibility of reconciliation seeps into the play.
In its apparently random accumulation of details, an exceptional group portrait emerges: the family as a weave of the small anxieties and jagged memories, the tiny frictions, and the slow burn.
Unflashy and moving.
4 STARS out of 5
VUE Weekly – Bruce Cinnamon
A Slow Air is a visually static, dialogue-heavy play in which a complex story unfolds at a treacly pace. What a relief then that our two actors, Sharla Matkin and George Szilagyi, are such capable storytellers. They lift up the ponderous text and bring it to life with vivid, engaging monologues. A Scotsman who hates golf and his sister who drinks boxed wine from a coffee mug, Szilagyi and Matkin are siblings who haven’t spoken in 14 years.
Their eventual reunion builds slowly, but by the time they bridge their two sides of the stage, their characters are so familiar that it’s easy to feel their bittersweet blend of emotions.
4 STARS out of 5