I know all about the Wright brothers and the first powered flight. Well, I think I do. Actually, I’m not that sure.
The story of the Wright brothers and how they taught the world to fly is strangely sidelined in the popular history of science, despite the development of the aeroplane being one of the most significant inventions of the twentieth century. Yet it is a classic lowly-underdog-with-no-resources-solves-the- problem-that-has-baffled-the-greatest-minds-in-history-triumphing-against-the-evil-forces-of- corporate-finance story. We all love an underdog – and in The Wright Brothers we’ve got two.
Every time I get in a plane, I have a slight anxiety about how the thing stays in the air. I mean, it’s not natural, is it?
You might not be able to take a degree in aeronautical engineering after seeing the show, but you’ll certainly have a better understanding of the mechanics of flight. You might be just as anxious next time you board a plane, but having seen what the first plane looked like, you’ll be glad that the plane you’re sitting in is no longer driven by bicycle chains… And even if you’ve never been on a plane, you can relate to the heart-warming story of two brothers who worked together to achieve the impossible.
I saw One Small Step, the moon landing show, in one of the twenty countries it visited last year, and read all the five star reviews. This is the same creative team, isn’t it?
It certainly is. David Hastings has amassed an extraordinary amount of documentary information and then crafted it into a dramatic story for the stage. The actors have then played with the material in rehearsal to find the best way to tell that story in an hour. If verbatim theatre and devising from imaginative play got together and had children, then The Wright Brothers and One Small Step would be those children. The two plays are different in style and tone, but that creative relationship between documentary fact and outrageous pretending is at the core of them both.
I am a great fan of bicycles, moustaches, epic stories, family dramas, ragtime, bowler hats, vaudeville, inspirational speeches, Laurel and Hardy, paper, experimental film, complex mathematical equations and chickens.
Then, my friend, this is the show for you.
I want to believe that a man can fly.
And trust me, you will believe that a man can fly. Right in front of your very eyes.
The Wright Brothers can be seen at the Pleasance Courtyard from 5-27 August (excl 8,15,21) at 13.30.
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