Much can be said of the human nature brought forward at airports.
On your way from one place to another you come into contact with and pass individuals from all walks of life. If you were to strike up a conversation with one of these people, who knows how close you might be to a stranger that you will never meet again. Perhaps neither of you know where you are going in life but you’re both in a hurry to get there and this is at the heart of This Moment in Time, a new play by emerging company Pansy Productions.
Writer Alistair Ward‘s play is the story of Sam (Ruby Vadiveloo) and Theo (played by Ward himself). Two travellers during the summer rush having a conversation at an airport while they both await their delayed flight. Following her yearly visit home, Sam is on the way back to New York. Still in mourning over the death of her father, she dreads returning to face a partner she no longer feels connected to.
Meanwhile the optimistic new-age Theo is on his way to a short vacation to help deal with his recent break up. He struggles for the unattainable goal of being the perfect man and forces himself to come out of his shell.
Directed by Mashaka Gunnulson, This Moment In Time is inspired by real conversations made or witnessed in airport terminals. With little reliance on props or sets, I appreciated how much this play is focused on its two performers. Both actors were perfect in their respective roles and show a true chemistry which develops over the course of the play.
At first, Sam puts up barriers and Theo is almost overbearing in his attempts to stir up a conversation. This insistence is something he admits is a coping mechanism. Ward subtlety fidgets early into the encounter like an uncomfortable man. By the end of the play, Sam and Theo are talking freely and Ward makes this relief palpable. There are laughs at Theo‘s awkwardness, but Ward delivers this heartfelt character in an endearing way.
An interesting means is used to help get inside of each character even more. With clever sound and lighting design by Jasmine Tolentino, at some moments, lighting on one actor’s half of the stage will turn blue as they voice their internal thoughts. Through this they share directly with us, the audience, what they are too ashamed to share aloud to each other. Fittingly, it is Sam who shares more this way, as even when being honest with Theo she is holding just that little bit extra back.
As the audience entered the theatre, Vadiveloo’s Sam is already on stage, sitting and irritated while waiting for her flight. Vadiveloo doesn’t allow Sam‘s initial stand-offishness to ever come off as malicious. She’s a bit sarcastic but we learn that this is a woman with a lot on her mind. It’s heartbreaking to hear her tell us about the loss of her father and the emptiness of her relationship. With genuine emotion in her eyes, Vadiveloo is as relatable as an actress can be.
If I had one criticism of This Moment in Time, it would be that I wanted more. Firstly, I wish some of my flights were also delayed for such a short time. More so, I would simply have liked to remain a fly on the wall of these two for a little bit longer. Their story and interactions were so intriguing, I feel the play could only have benefited from a longer runtime.
Over their short delay, Sam and Theo, although awkward at first, warm up to each other. The two discuss their plans, failures, hopes, mental health, and passions. Through this, they help each other understand a little bit more about themselves. Very much a character driven play, This Moment in Time is a brutally honest production. It’s fascinating dialogue is elevated by a pair of incredibly talented actors who make it all the more real.
This Moment in Time is now playing at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne’s CBD until the 10th of December 2022.
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Photography by Edward Broadbent.