In 1897 the energetic young Swedish engineer Salomon August Andrée and two colleagues – Nils 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.