You know me, G&T in hand, front row, ready to get up close and personal for a show. I’ve gotta ask… does anyone else get anxious when other audience members walk through the set to get to seating rather than walking around? Is that just me?! Anyway… THE ASTRAL PLANE, let’s get to it!
“In occult cosmology, the astral plane is one of several (most often, seven or twelve) planes of existence, along with physical, etheric, causal, and mental.”
That is what I found on encyclopedia.com when doing some background on Belvoir 25A’s current show.
THE ASTRAL PLANE positions itself as a fantasy-comedy, and centres on a young couple (Romi and Dan) who get into an argument on a romantic getaway. The spat leaves influencer Romi in the woods looking for the owner of a mysterious voice and Dan on his way to try and find enlightenment via meditation. Oh, and there’s some rats from another universe there too.
To be honest, reading the actual synopsis, I thought the whole runt Rat Prince thing was a joke. It was not. And it was glorious.
Michael Whalley is zealous and loveable as the runt rat-prince. He and Emma Harvie balance comedy and clearness as a fantasy world is woven clearly for the audience from the get go.
In the first few moments of Imogen Sage being on stage, my heart sinks. This is going to be my pet peeve, I think, this character is going to get under my skin. But, she displays something truthful and truly enjoyable in what could have easily come across as a simply vapid character. Whalley is a great support in this sense.
Lynch, Robertson, and Falk complete the strong ensemble of six – making 100 minutes feel like 15. Martin Kinnane and Clare Hennessy’s design for light and sound compliment the world – a simple set transports us into multiple dimensions. Indeed, the task of 25A (to make a show for less than $1500) means a triumph requires the turning of small budgets into gold.
Charlie Garber has written a tight, funny, electric script and it is well executed. This show doesn’t miss a beat for me, I’d see it again. It’s hilarious, it’s got heart, and I haven’t seen anything like it.
THE ASTRAL PLANE is playing downstairs at Belvoir Street until Saturday June 29, 2019.
Production photography by Clare Hawley