FRINGE REVIEW – Mission of Flowers (C Aquila)

*****

12 – 30 August (not 17)
1430-1530, C Aquila

Mission of Flowers is a one-handed production telling the true story of Bill Lancaster, a pilot during the ‘golden age of flight’ in the 1930s. Stranded in the Sahara desert after a crash, the play uses extracts from Lancaster’s letters and logbook to bring the man back to life; and to evoke the spirit of the age, when daredevil adventurers took to the skies in search of fame and glory.

Lancaster is played by Leof Kingsford-Smith, a mature Australian actor who, sheltering in the shorn-off wing of his single-seat biplane, reminisces about the path which brought him here as he waits for rescue from the parching heat of the desert.

In the course of the play, we hear of Kingsford-Smith’s passionate love for ‘Chubbie’, a female aviator and seductress who steals his heart – and some of his glory. As his memories pass through his fingers like the sands of the desert he is trapped in, we also learn some terrible truths about Lancaster, and the things he has done in the name of love.

Kingsford-Smith is strong in the role, and puts in a word-perfect performance as the increasingly-desperate pilot. The staging is simple, the biplane’s wing being the only item on stage; with Lancaster’s rapidly-emptying water can being used to literally mark pace through the production.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Mission of Flowers is that, although Lancaster is a mostly unsympathetic character, Kingsford-Smith’s delivery successfully evokes the plight and the period, and holds our attention until the play’s well-crafted end.

Ticket information is available on the Fringe website.

Review by Keith D

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