Time & Again Theatre bring us a daring tale from the early 20th century. The year is 1913 and women are rising up to vocalise their demands. The Suffragette movement, led by Emmeline Pankhurst is gaining full steam. With that backdrop, our protagonist Winnifred ‘Freddie’ Baxter, decides she is going to be a pilot and convinces her instructor Philip Brooke to take a chance in her. Freddie is obsessed with flying, and her brother Theodore is quite taken with clouds and meteorology. He is also taken by Sylvia Lovejoy, who is a vocal Suffragette.
It is evident that the women will forge on, no matter the obstacles thrown in their way. Freddie has her heart set on entering the air race. A balancing and believable foil appears in the form of Lady Sarah. Her husband, the Lord, owns the land on which the flying lessons take place. As is befitting of her position, she wants to be seen as saying and doing the right thing. A number of times, it is clear that this may not be what she wants, but more of what is expected of her. The costumes in the production are excellent (as are the actors). They do a fine job of portraying each character, and their individual triumphs and woes.
Despite that, this production tries to cram too much into one show. It feels like there are too many ’causes’ to care for. There is the casual sexism and ‘mansplaining‘ that undermines women; there is the Suffragette movement which provides strong backdrop; and finally, there is the class distinction and the attitudes that shaped the relationships between the gentry and the bourgeois. Add to that the references to Mona Lisa, which turns out to be a passing remark, and it feels somehow scattered and busy.
However, this is a group with great potential, fine acting skills and a great look. If one is able to guard against reading too much into the social issues, this is a guaranteed win at this year’s Fringe.