Standing resplendent in the rear courtyard of the Pleasance is a 1978 yellow VW camper van. The camper, Joni by name, is the property of stand-up comedian Laura Mugridge and temporary home to Running on Air, Mugridge’s solo storytelling show.
Joni only seats five, plus Mugridge herself, and the space limitations mean that any idea of a fourth wall evaporates in a blaze of introductions and friendly pre-show chat. This genial mood persists throughout: Mugridge addresses her audience members by name, asking that they pass her this or that item, play a particular cassette tape or attempt to map read.
Despite the lack of legroom, there are plenty of clever set pieces, including several moments of interactive theatre. Mugridge uses the tools at her disposal with great imagination and the results are at once endearing and amusing.
Running on Air reimagines two journeys taken by Mugridge and her husband in Joni since she was purchased with wedding present money early last summer. The accounts of the various automotive disasters that occur during this period are frequently bittersweet but no less funny for this fact.
Mugridge’s whimsical monologue, which touches upon the comic’s relationship with her actor husband, moments of professional self-doubt, and the horrors of camping in the days before Joni, makes one wish to get to know her better. This particular style of comedy won’t be to everyone’s taste, but there is real heart to what Mugridge does in the limited surroundings of this wonderful little van.