Spitfire Solo

Perf@ect and The Centre for International Theatre. Higher Ground. 6 Mar 2012

“Tat-tat-tat-tat-tat!!!”  What boy hasn’t imagined himself a Spitfire pilot saving Great Britain from invasion by the Hun?  Actor Nicholas Collett grabbed the controls on our imagination and in a solo performance took us on his first flight as a boy, invited us to pilot school and then into the cockpit over the channel in pin-wheeling shoot-outs with Nazi bomber escorts.  Pilot Officer Peter Walker is now a retiree newly ensconced in a home and is surprised by a long-estranged family connection.  As he ruminates over a decision of forgiveness and acceptance, his war experience is recollected for us, yet Walker offers little to make it relevant to how he reacts in the present. 

Collett and director/collaborator Gavin Robertson create an authentic atmosphere with some newsreel footage and a domestic setting suggesting war time austerity, and with Walker’s crisply pressed uniform.  The device of memory recollection plays scenes out of time sequence and backfills the present day story with added interest. 

Collett’s Walker is warm, friendly, real and in the room with you.  His flyer Walker and retired Walker were palpably distinct characterisations.  Walker’s wide-eyed youth after his first flight yielded the precious held-back reserve of a boy just about jumping out of his skin with excitement, but the exhilaration and terror that one conjoins with aerial combat seemed underplayed – or maybe that’s just the English reserve. 

Unless you happen to know a Battle of Britain ace to have a cuppa with, I wouldn’t miss this opportunity to meet one.

David Grybowski

When: 8 to 18 Mar
Where: Higher Ground - Art Base
Bookings: www.adelaidefringe.com.au