Those Magnificent Men

5 Stars

*****

The combined efforts to recreate an epic journey in words, action, sound, lighting and set construction have resulted in a heart-warming production of great quality and humour. Ian Shaw and Richard Earl take on the roles of Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitton Brown respectively, as well as other characters in the story and themselves as narrators.

On entering the auditorium we are met by the two actors who distribute programmes in the style of a newspaper of the times. It is also best to arrive early to take in the atmosphere created by the set which will figure in the story. Indeed, there is a third important character in the form of the Vickers-Vimy-Rolls aeroplane which Shaw and Earl put together as the story develops. It does look a bit of a Heath-Robinson construction but it is convincing in putting across the dramatic nature of their historic flight in what the pilots of the times called a crate.

The humour in the account stems largely from Shaw and Earl being at odds as narrators with the former wanting to retain strict historical accuracy whilst the latter would introduce a few embellishments for dramatic effect. However, the story in itself is sufficiently dramatic from the time when Alcock and Brown form a partnership, to the battle with the weather elements on the record breaking flight right through to the aftermath of their success.

Great credit must go to all involved, Writers Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon, Director Daniel Buckroyd and all the technical crew. Although there is much humour in the play, it is done with respect to two aviation heroes never losing sight of their courage and daring.

Reviewed by Ben

Udderbelly’s Pasture Cow Barn: 300

3 to 29 August 2011 (not 17)

13.15 – 14.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 303

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