Lone Flyer by Ade Morris. JermynStreet Theatre, London SW1 to 3 July 2021. 4****. William Russell.

Fine performances by Hannah Edwards as Amy Johnson and Benedict Salter as everyone else carry this tale to success. An import from the Watermill Theatre it has been given a smooth and inventive production by Lucy Betts and once again Jermyn Street is adding to the delights of the West End in these early stages of re-opening. It is a three star play with four star performances. The problem really is that Johnson is today a forgotten heroine of the skies and this telling of her life story gets complicated as on her last flight she panics as the clouds descend and she has no idea where she is or what she is flying over and then goes back to her youth, to how a girl from Hull, daughter of a Fish merchant, who had worked as a typist and once sold silks in John Lewis, through sheer determination became the first woman to fly to Australia, met and married the Australian flyer Jim Mollison – they were so famous they got one of those tickertape parades in New York and she was celebrated in popular song- only to die in mysterious circumstances. Conjuring all that up as a two hander with little more than some suitcases, a cello, and a mobile platform which serves as her plane is no mean feat. But the joy of the evening is how Hannah Edwards creates this tough, determined, daft woman who dreams the impossible dream – women like her did not fly, that was something for the upper classes if at all – and turned it into reality. Benedict Salter provides the men and women – notably her friend Winifred – in her life with great skill. It is what it should be, a supporting performance not one shouting out how clever I am. Her glory days were in the 1930s. When war broke out she flew planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary and it was on one of those flights that bad weather caused her to come down in the English Channel. She apparently parachuted down, was seen, and a rescue attempt was made but her body was never recovered and just why she got into trouble remains a mystery much speculated about at the time.

Amy Johnson: Hannah Edwards.
Various: Benedict Salter.
Director: Lucy Betts.
Lighting Designer: Johanna Town.
Sound Designer: Justin Teasdale.

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