‘Airness’ hooks viewers early on

Del Mar College’s Drama Department held five showings of “Airness: The Air Guitar Comedy” from April 7-15. A loud and proud comedic performance following Nina, played by Mia Dobbins, and a band of colorful and charismatic air guitarists, “Airness” is a show about pretend, but serious pretend.

I had originally chosen to attend the Student Appreciation performance on April 13 after a somewhat long day of designing the newspaper with the Foghorn staff and getting it ready for print. Stressed, tired, and having just finished a rather nasty argument with a family member, by the time I had sat down in Bartlett Theater and finally managed to get the glowstick bracelets to stay on my wrists, I was ready to shut down and watch what I assumed would be a largely mindless evening. Instead, by the end of the first scene of the first act, I found myself hooked and with full attention locked on the performance and the story. 

That might sound surprising for a play with as silly a premise as a national air guitar competition. Yet, through the acting ability of the cast and the energy of the audience, it was not difficult to find myself transported to a dive bar in Chicago, watching a group of colorful men and women in eccentric costumes perform in an actual air guitar competition. That still sounds a bit silly, but that is part of the charm. The cast gave off a powerful energy in their performance and the audience gave it back in kind, leading to a truly enjoyable experience.

Speaking of eccentric costumes, the costume design by Shahrzad Haghjoo was one of the performance’s many highlights. From the over-the-top golden suit, with built-in tear-away trousers, of the aptly named Golden Thunder, played by Eddie Alejandre, to the subdued but classic hometown hero design of Shreddy Eddie, played by Samuel Howarth, every character was given a unique and lovable personality and easily identifiable silhouette. From the moment each character was introduced, it was clear that at least some members of the crowd were very quick to choose favorites. I was personally on Team Facebender, who was played by Roman Mendieta in elegant historical garb. One cannot understate the value of a good puffy shirt and wide-brimmed hat.

Of course, every performance comes with the good and the bad. As a casual viewer, I found the costume design and the performance given by the cast exceptional. But the story carried with it some flaws that on rare occasion pulled me out of the enjoyment. Certain plot points could have been better developed with more time and the pacing seemed a bit faster than I would have preferred. The performance was two hours when it might have better been served with two hours and 20 minutes. Though, if you prefer faster paced entertainment and don’t mind your stories coming with the rare pocket, then this one might just earn a perfect score.

Overall, the whole cast and crew of Del Mar College’s Drama Department did a stellar job bringing this lovable story to life. If you have a chance of catching their next performance in the fall, I highly recommend you do so, as they are more than worthy of being considered the equals of Corpus Christi’s professional theaters. And if you find yourself in the area the next time a skilled theater troupe decides to put on a showing of “Airness,” I hope you get the chance to see it for yourself. You might not leave the theater feeling culturally enriched, but you’ll have a laugh and have a blast, which is just as good.

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