exploration... what names spring to your mind? Scott or Amundsen
most probably. But Andrée? Almost certainly not. The enterprising
NIE theatre company's new show aims to correct the record and our
In 1897 the energetic
young Swedish engineer Salomon August Andrée and two colleagues –
Strindberg (nephew of
the dramatist) and Knut Frænkel
- set off to reach the North Pole in a massive custom-made (but
untested) balloon. In a sad pre-echo of Scott's South Pole expedition
a decade and a half later, it ended in tragedy.
Three actors –
Martin Bonger, Margit Szlavik and Elisabet Topp – take us
through the story from the bright enthusiasm of its start (this
was cutting-edge technology for its time) to the sad conclusion,
stranded on the White Island with the crashed balloon abandoned,
stores lost to ice-flow vagaries and the fatal onset of winter.
Director Alex Byrne has a sure hand with his material.
Bicat and Rigby are the
designers. Projections onto drapes of white fabric, a couple of tall
ladders and a plethora of props furnish the scene. Accordions, a
double-bass and a guitar are taken up by the cast as accompaniment to
and commentary on the story as it unfolds. All three actors draw us
into the action; we know that the end will not be a happy one but
somehow we want history to rewrite itself. Of course, it never does.