The Common Air Theater Review - A Limited Engagement One-Man Wonder

The Common Air is a one-man sketch show depicting a day in the life of six people who are bound for or trapped in a New York airport during a security lockdown under the threat of terrorist activity. As one might expect the array of characters performed by writer / performer Alex Lyras run the gambit in such a transient environment as an airport. And, as one might not expect, they all in fact share a common mantra.

Own journey begins with the Iraqi cabbie who fascinated with American’s blatant “disregard for abundancy”. He is imperturbably because he knows “the secret”. He is content driving his taxi, albeit a bit recklessly, talking non-stop to every fare, playing his music loudly, even leaving his cab and dancing in the street to pass the time when stuck in a traffic jam. He is not only creating his own reality, he has come up with an idea for a reality program: A day in his like.

Alex Lyras in "The Common Air", currently at the Lillian Theater

Needless to say our Gallery owner was happy to arrive at the airport and get away from the cabbie. He has his own problems. He has abandoned his former gay-bashed lover and retreated within the tidings of his career success. For this character, creating his own reality means conquering the guilt that lies just below the surface.

Our Lawyer character is not impressed with the Gallery Owner’s tragic love story. This palm-pilot pounding, vodka swigging character creates his reality by choosing a point of view to champion. By inserting his rules within the rules, anything is possible, even the airport lounge’s cocktail waitress, Valerie.

Our young DJ from Miami likes the lawyer’s idea that words are just placeholders, waiting for you to insert your own reality. Especially since he is learning two words a day to augment his lexicon. He uses the transmogrificative power of music to shape is reality.

Transmogrification in progress

Next we meet a College professor who has been trapped in the airport with his son, Tyler, for 12 hours. He seems content to be at the mercy of fate because he has a more passive/aggressive approach to creating own reality. He simply ignores the parts that he doesn’t like, i.e., his ex-wife screaming at him on the other end of the phone; and acknowledging the parts that he does, i.e. feeding Tyler chicken nuggets in the absence of his tyrannical Ex.

Lyras’ final transformation of the evening was into an unassuming graduate student who finds himself in a cab driven by a fellow Iraqi who plays loud music and insists on carrying on a conversation with him instead of watching the road. After his flight is cancelled, he makes his way across town to crash a friend, and finds himself telling the cabbie about how he is Iraqi born but moved to America with his father when he was youth. He takes us through a touching journey of fractured identity as a result of losing his mother and his faith.

Sometimes, you just gotta dance...

One man shows are a tough sell because the performer is asking the audience to see the character beyond the actor’s physical stature. However, Alex Lyras makes it easy for his audience with strong characterizations and elemental wardrobe changes, allowing him to disappear into one character to the next to the next, with only one personae being a real stretch for my taste. What’s most impressive is the way Lyras not only captures the various mannerisms or accents of each character, but he manages to manifest a very distinct energy for each. There is no residue from one character to the next. His transformations are very clean and well defined without being overdrawn. Well done.

Truly a one-man show, Lyras moves all his own set pieces without the aid of stagehands. Alex Lyras portrays an impressive parade of colorful characters that are as passionate as they are diverse. He deftly endows each character with their own shining slice of humanity during his tireless performance. It’s a wonderful little show that subtly illuminates the one thing must of us have in common: Hope.

The Common Air has been extended for a limited engagement
Wednesday, January 23rd & Thursday, January 24th @ 8PM.

For more information and possible February Dates visit: www.thecommonair.com

The Lillian Theater
1076 N. Lillian Way
Hollywood, CA 90038

Tickets: $20


For reservations call: (323) 960-4443 or online @
www.plays411.com/commonair

 

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