I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord / and I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life oh Lord …
So goes the opening refrains to Phil Collins’ 1981 hit song, In the Air Tonight. But no doubt, it’s a fitting sentiment for those anticipating the play of the same name, penned and performed by comic writer Paul Ayre and joined by one-half of the Umbilical Brothers, David Collins.
The year is 2006 and 17 years after a secret space mission was established in Darwin, Australia, with the singular purpose of charting that now doomed ‘planet’, Pluto. Spacemen Xavier and Jared have patiently cycled through 93,000 repeats of Phil Collins’ greatest hits and endless re-hashings of their failed relationships. And now they’re about to discover their mission has been in vain. Oh, Lord indeed …
Hey David! How are you feeling about your return to the stage for In the Air Tonight? Excited and relieved. Excited because it’s such a fun play to do, and relieved because the last season was completely sold out so we had a lot of people who missed it now getting a chance to see what all the fuss was about. And Paul [Ayre] has changed a whole heap of the show, so even those lucky ones who have seen it before can come enjoy completely new scenes and even new characters. It’s even better.
You met writer and co-star Paul Ayre when he did the voiceover as God for an Umbilical Brothers show. What makes a good ‘God’ voice? And are you still a bit scared that Paul might smite you? The God voice is only achievable with an effect on the mic, so really anyone can sound like him. It’s the attitude that Paul nailed. Playful, yet completely in charge of things with the ability to smite implied by his tone rather than his finger. Paul himself would never smite anyone, he’s too nice. If he ever did it would be hilarious and well worth being smote.
In the Air Tonight plays on the rather sad story of Pluto’s demotion from planet. How did you feel when you heard that news? Is there any other major space object you’d like to see demoted instead? I was very disheartened. The word ‘planet’ means ‘a wanderer’. And you can’t tell me Pluto is not still wandering! And if I had to demote anything it would be Deimos. It’s supposedly one of the moons of Mars but it’s a joke. It’s just a pebble. I’ve mooned larger than that moon.
Spacemen Xavier and Jared are haunted by an unending Phil Collins soundtrack. Why Phil? Is this your personal nightmare or are you a bit of a fan? The play came about by a Phil Collins CD being stuck in Paul’s car stereo. He was forced to listen to it for half a year. Listening to Phil Collins 800,000 times is much like the seven stages of grieving. In the end you have to accept. I am a fan by the way. Good thing, because doing this play I have had to listen to not only the music, but constant conversations about Phil for hours on end.
Can you tell us what your favourite moment or quote in the play is … My favourite moment – There is a game of chess that is played with ‘space rules’. Even if you don’t know how to play chess (shame on you) it will be one of the funniest things you have ever seen. There were very few nights the actors on stage did not break out laughing themselves.
My favourite quote – Jared has just kissed my ex-fiancé Elenore. She can’t believe what she’s done, saying to me “I don’t know what came over me”, to which Jared exclaims “I didn’t! I did not do that!”
You work well in comedic duos. Why do you think that is? It’s a very safe place to exist. If I’m feeling not quite with it i can rely on the other person to save the night. I do like bouncing ideas of others. It also keeps me sane. Have you met any comedians? They are talking to themselves all day. Most are lonely and insane. The worst are the puppeteers. They talk to a piece of wood all day. If you find one, keep eye contact and walk away slowly.
May 1-20, Sidetrack Theatre, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville, $22.50-33.50, 9550 3666, sidetrack.com.au