Review: GAS STATION ANGEL ROYAL COURT : Audience joins the fairies and angels on a flight of fancy

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ED THOMAS, leading light of the Welsh theatre scene believes in fairies and angels. And he's not ashamed to admit it. Ed Thomas is no fool though: he knows that a modern audience, especially an audience at a hip joint like the Royal Court which has commissioned him, would scoff at any literal minded attempt to represent a sprite on stage.

Evocative though the title of his new play may be, Gas Station Angel isn't about the life and times of Robin Goodfellow, elf pump attendant. A quartet of very 20th-century-looking seraphs flit in and out dressed in business suits with tiny blue wing markings etched on their shoulders, solemnly holding up black umbrellas. But like the throbbing sound track they're more for decorative affect than anything.

Thomas tries to suggest another world by abstract means, on an empty stage, a world which may be solely a figment of the human imagination, or simply a convenient metaphor, or even a joke. Unfortunately, he overburdens both his able cast and his audience with the task of making sense of the plays all pervading ambiguities.

The piece probably contains more references to fairies and angels than the complete works of Shakespeare. The very first line is "I saw an angel" uttered by Ace, a young man with his head in the clouds and his heart set on the ethereal Bron. It's a perfect match (as Ace's constantly spooked out doddery mother, excellent Valmai Jones, informs him "You were a baby made by fairies") together they are going to leave the dreariness of small town behind them and drive "a blue tinted glass Marina 1800 TC into the heart of Saturday night" the only obstacle is the past - the two come with some heavy emotional baggage.

The play's main problem is that for all their dreams of flight, Ace and Bron never stand out from the rest of the crazy-talking town. Simon Gregor steals the show as both a gruff pub landlord and a frustrated check out assistant who wails "Let me get pregnant by the spunk of a fairy!" Thomas can write dialogue that is sometimes as excruciating in its whimsy as that of the other Thomas, Dylan. But there are times when you hear something funny, stirring, and original. A case of better luck next time.