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Lone Flyer - The Watermill Theatre, Newbury REVIEW

When I saw this show pop up I knew there was one person I had to take along - my partner. He loves theatre, which falls only second to I’m in third place...hopefully!

Lone Flyer has returned to The Watermill Theatre in Newbury following a hugely successful run in 2020 and it seems this time around won’t be any different.

We follow the life and tale of Amy Johnson from her early days to her last few moments. We watch as she finds it hard to fit in with the conventional ‘women jobs’ whilst tackling heartache and pursuing her love of flying.

As the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, Amy’s career reached new heights, but the outbreak of the Second World War changed everything, and she finds herself facing her greatest challenge yet.

Driven by the need to escape from one life to another, follow Amy’s journey from humble beginnings to become one of Britain’s most influential female aviators.

The first half was a little confusing to follow as we quickly jumped around from place to place, meeting different characters and encountering different hurdles in Amy’s life. This meant it was hard to settle into the plot and character development.

The second half calms and we get stuck into Amy’s adventures which brought more rhythm and emotion to the piece. It’s partly down to this smoother flow of the plot that brings the audience and story closer together.

Amy, played by Louise Willoughby, gives a strong performance as the female aviator and is wonderfully supported by Benedict Salter who runs around her playing all the men, and some of the women, that she encounters on her travels through life.

Willoughby navigates between vulnerability as we see flash-forwards to her final flight, and her hardiness as she battles the gender norms in day to day life. I found that the snippets of her final flight were slightly overused throughout the piece but still an effective method of storytelling.

Set, sound and lighting combine forces to take you into the cockpit alongside Amy while simple props and costume pieces are used efficiently and effectively to mark who is who in the play of two cast members and a whole lot more characters.

This powerful play featuring one of the most inspirational women of the twentieth century runs at the Watermill until Saturday 25 September.

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