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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Watermill - Lone Flyer

20th to 24th March 2001, then on tour.

Author and director Ade Morris tells of the daring emotional and physical drive of Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo to Australia. Her constant search for new career highs led to her mysterious death over the Thames estuary at the start of World War Two. Her body was never found.

This is from the NWN.

Complex character unfolds

'LONE FLYER', at The Watermill Theatre, from Tuesday, March 20 to Saturday, March 24

It is always good to see original theatre and it is encouraging that the Watermill is still able to stage such a prolific stream of high-quality drama given its current funding situation. Ade Morris has written and directed this fine new play based m the life of Amy Johnson, best known as the first woman to fly Solo to Australia.

Libby Watson's design draped the stage with an enormous parachute onto which images were projected. There were maps on each side with a single pilot's chair in the centre. Simple but effective.

Eleanor Moriarty had the challenging and demanding role of playing Amy, slowly unfolding the complex character of this remarkable pioneering woman. She is perfectly cast, creating strong vignettes as the young Amy grows up in Hull, falling off a dresser, watching the Zeppelins flying overhead or losing her teeth playing cricket! All part of a normal childhood. Her dreams were up on the silver screen of the cinema, from Hull to Hollywood.

She eventually goes to university and, after a series of unfulfilling jobs, moves to London where she meets Hanz and has a torrid unhappy love affair with him. In desperation she joins the London Flying Club and is encouraged by Jack Humphries to gain both engineering and flying qualifications.

John Sackville is a tour de force; not only as the feckless Hanz but also in creating a believable, supportive Will Johnson and a splendid Jim Mollison, "the playboy of the air" who Amy sensationally marries with disastrous results. Sackville also plays all the other male characters and some female ones as well - all excellent crafted performances from a talented actor,

Amy is the unconventional butterfly unable to settle or land as she is driven by the need to escape from one life into another, to escape into adventure. Her final flight was delivering a plane to Kidlington, but she was overcome by bad weather and crashed into the sea, her biggest fear.

Ade Morris' surefooted direction was inventive and sharply focussed. Don't miss this powerful play during its tour of arts and community centres.


And this is from Kick FM.

This is about the life of Amy Johnson, who was the first woman to fly solo to Australia, in the 1930s. It’s written and directed by Ade Morris, who also did last year’s touring production of The Dreamer, about Martin Luther King. You could see the similarity in style between his two productions, notably in the way that the scenes are mixed in together, jumping backwards and forwards in time. Morris serves up the pieces of a jigsaw, not in order, and we have to put them together. By the end of the play, the last piece has fallen into place.

I thought it was too long. The story didn’t have the substance of the Martin Luther King story, and the central thread of Johnson’s last fatal flight became repetitive. But the two performers – Eleanor Moriarty as Amy, the independent misfit, and John Sackville as all the other people in her life (including a woman) – they both gave strong performances. It’s finished its run at the Watermill, but now it’s on tour, coming to Harwell Village Hall on Saturday the 31st and Lambourn Centre the following Saturday, with more local places later in April. It’s good to see companies bringing performances to the villages – Kennet Opera did this recently – and if it’s coming near you it’s a great opportunity to see good theatre, locally and cheaply.