Heron, Magpie and Feral Pigeon have never done this “presentation-talk-lecture” on how to conquer your fear in front of an audience before. Unsurprising, therefore, that the siblings are a tad nervous as they share techniques they’ve learned from Jeff, an American self-help guru who’s been communicating with them through an old boombox since their parents abandoned them 19 years previously. They don’t let that stop them though, enthusiastically demonstrating Fuller’s "body-based process", showing us the Boy Scout-style badges they’ve awarded each other for coping home alone, and settling down for story time in Calm Down Corner.
If it all sounds bonkers, that’s because it is. Writer/director Anna Harpin and performers Susie Riddell, Adam Fuller and Emma Keaveney-Roys conjure up a compelling dramatic universe that tempts us in—audience participation involves a Mini Cheddars and mojito party—while prompting us to puzzle over what dark deeds might have led the siblings to construct this elaborate fantasy world.
This tension is never satisfyingly resolved, leaving the show feeling more like a series of (very funny) interconnecting sketches rather than a drama with a proper narrative arc. On the one hand, this is a shame, because the few moments of pathos are beautifully framed. On the other however, What if the Plane Falls Out of the Sky? isn't any less enjoyable to watch and be part of for this absence, thanks to Harpin’s quick, smart script and nuanced comic performances by the whole cast.