It is with pleasure that I board Budge-It Airlines for a journey into the unknown. The Space Triplex staff wish us a 'good flight' as they tear our ticket stubs and usher us onto the 'plane'. Once aboard, we meet cabin stewards Cressida and Cecil, and take our seats before hearing the first announcement of this enjoyable and unpredictable journey.
Laid out in the style of an aeroplane cabin, with the imaginary cockpit lying beyond closed curtains at the front on the venue, the immersive aspect of this piece comes from action taking place in the centre and side aisles and from a degree of interaction with the audience. From what little I'd known about the show in advance, I had been expecting more involvement and perhaps some improvisation with audience members; in the event, we are very much onlookers as a story unfolds around us. But actually, this approach works very well - the plot is intentionally farcical, and the script is strongly written.
Another thing I expected – and this, I think, is a genuine disappointment – was more of a parody of the airline experience. Cressida's opening announcement sounded very much like an actor speaking, not an air stewardess. We all love a send-up of the familiar, and the sing-song style of the airline tannoy is very easy to imitate. There were also missed opportunities for observational send-up of cabin crew, which the script encapsulated but the acting too often did not.
The show had a few very funny moments (particularly in some of the throwaway lines), and the physicality was well-executed, making for some highly entertaining chaos. But there was a lot of over-acting, as if performing in a massive auditorium; they need to tone it down a little for the intimate setting that this really is. A more nuanced approach would also offer a greater sense of contrast when things get really frenetic.
Still, this was a fun show, and one I enjoyed very much. There were some lovely touches, with free airline-logo pens handed out and tokens for a pay-as-you-go toilet. With a little fine-tuning, there may even be five-star potential here. The ending was brilliant, and it was in the last section when I thought the show particularly 'took off'... Or did it? You'll have to see Buckle Up for yourself to find out.