• Amy Toledano

Spitfire Sisters presented by Doc Anderson-Bloomfield, Catherine Comfort and Heather Dunmore.

Image courtesy of Liz Isles

What is it?

Based on a true story, this is the untold truth of British and American female pilots of WWII.

What's it all about?

Spitfire Sisters is a story that follows a year in the lives of a group of female pilots. and is an interesting take on what life was like for them.

Led by Phyllis Griggs (Faye Maughan), the British pilots meet their new American comrades and at first, find that they don't have as much in common as they originally thought. The American women are brash and cocky, especially their head pilot Jackie Hawkins (Alessandra Perotto) and they have a manner that is totally opposite to the British way of thinking.

But as times passes, the bonds between the women strengthen as they build ties and find a balanced familiarity with one another. Secrets are revealed and nothing is ever smooth sailing, but they fight the good fight and come out with a win.

How did it make me feel?

This show has such a good premise, but sadly it doesn't quite live up to its potential. The story of female pilots in a time totally controlled by the decisions and ideals of men, Spitfire Sisters would have been much better served if it had just chosen a select few storylines and themes to focus in on, instead of the many complex plot lines going on that were more often than not, poorly explained or altogether forgotten. I kept finding I was suprised by things characters were saying, and did not understand where these things had come from, even though almost every character had a monologue in which to share some part of their backstory with the audience.

I also found that most of these backstories were only partly explained, and felt that things were needlessly added in. The choice to have a male character who cried about being in love with a woman (this was explained in one fleeting comment) that had died in a plane crash, felt completely out of place in a show that was shining a light on the lives and emotions of female pilots. The fact that this was included felt almost upsetting as it only showed again, that the feelings and words of male roles are more important than those who we are actually supposed to be focussing on.

Performances were good but there was a lack of chemistry that often felt forced throughout, particularly in the party scenes, where body language was stilted and slightly uncomfortable. The ending of the piece too, was, to put it bluntly, on the nose. I understand the reasoning as to why the women decide to comment on the gender pay gap, but it is just a sad reminder of how far we have to go as a society. For a show that should be a celebration of brilliant women from history, it is simply lost, and is blatantly clear that these women are being created and developed through a heavily male gaze.

Where Is It Playing?

The Space Theatre rearranges its main room in order to create the common room that the pilots spend most of their time in. Clever staging is also used when showing the pilots up in the air.

Anything Else?

The show definitely has such potential to be a really powerful piece of work. It just needs to find its voice and decide what kind of show it wants to be instead of trying to cram in multiple ideas that often serve no purpose.

Amy x

Spitefire Sisters is playing at The Space Theatre until the 6th July 2019.

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