Dir. Josh Dodds, The Flying Duck 28th Feb – 1st March
‘Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s right,’ is the slogan of this history play by new arrivals Figurehead Theatre, who have jumped onto the already booming Glasgow student theatre scene with a mix of loosely realist technology and contemporary history. Their message grips the audience from start to finish in the small space of the Flying Duck.
Lacking aspects of a traditional theatre, it’s made even more intimate through the use of video recording and projection.
Narrated as a series of flashbacks by a calculating George Putnam played in full breasted glory by Michael Cartledge, Mr. Earhart explores the life and legacy of Amelia Earhart, the world’s most famous aviatrix up until her disappearance in 1937. Against the backdrop of a world still reeling from the aftermath of World War One and teetering on the brink of disaster with its’ successor stands Amelia Earhart (Kirsty Black). Black’s ability to capture Earhart’s doggedness to succeed as a female pilot, against a family with crippling gambling debts and a society where a woman’s place is in the home, is contrasted by the vulnerability of being a woman in a profession dominated by men. Like Black, Alkmini Nikopolou in the role of Amy Johnson captures the vulnerability of being a woman in a man’s world perfectly; bringing just the right amount of emotion to her final accusatory outburst against Earhart and her connection with Putnam, playing on the pun that as his wife and protégé, Earhart is little more than Putnam’s puppet.
Earhart’s struggle to prove herself is emphasized by the physical theatre used to capture her flights. With Black as the propeller alongside the ensemble as wings, the production emphasizes Earhart’s determination to fight her corner despite the social constraints placed on her gender. The use of voiceover from Putnam and the flickering quality of the projector worked well to show the sheer amount of grief felt by the character in the aftermath of his wife’s disappearance. It is just a shame that the projector decided right at that moment to turn to blue-screen, as it pulled me away from the intimacy of the drama and reminded that I was, once again, in the Flying Duck.