A girl wearing flying goggles peers at a map covered in annotations. Locations, directions, hypotheses. She is stranded on a desert island with only crabs for company. Crabs and the radio that crashed in the plane with her. She has been there for days. She is starving, dehydrated, hallucinating. And her imagination takes her on a series of adventures. Between times, with increasing desperation, she tries to fix the plane that could take her back to safety.
Her flights of fancy are accompanied by a beautifully inventive soundscape, created more or less single-handedly by the talented, inventive and endearing Sam Kemp with a handful of instruments, a tableful of technology and his voice. His songs, his sound effects and the wistful grace he brings to our stranded adventurer are wonderful.
The story itself is a bit harder to follow. Grace Lyons Hudson is a charismatic performer with an expressive face and a lively sense of comedy. But even with the help of the Fringe programme narrative, it’s tricky to discern the story of Emmy, desperately seeking her heroine Amelia Earhart. There’s a talking radio, a king crab and a navigator who may or may not be having an affair with Emmy or Earhart who may or may not be married to someone else. Or are all of them hallucinations?
The production is packed with lovely detail. A set that is or isn’t a plane. Various nicely crafted masks. A dress made out of maps. And the whole thing is beautifully lit by Heidi Blackaby. This new company, Pareidolia Theatre, are full of promise but it would be great to see them pay as much attention to the story as they have to the story-telling. That would make Woman! Pilot! Pirate? into the show they deserve.