In this age of diversity and inclusion it’s all too easy to assume that girl power began with the Spice Girls; but long before sisters were doing it for themselves Amy Johnson lit the torch for equality between the wars.
The small but beautifully formed Jermyn Street Theatre is the proverbial hole in the wall just off Piccadilly; its intimate confines provide the perfect location for a streamed production. Of course, there can be no substitute for live theatre but is the next best thing if you cannot make the venue in person. Viewers can register and buy tickets online for the Footprints Festival which offers a wide selection of shows in an accessible format.
Lone Flyer tells the story of legendary aviator Amy Johnson, the first woman to complete a solo flight to Australia. Hannah Edwards plays Amy while Benedict Salter takes on multiple roles, depicting the most influential men in Amy’s life. She tells her own story primarily in flashback, but this is cleverly interspersed with two key journeys as an aviator: that historic solo mission to Australia and her fateful last flight with the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941. It’s amazing how much Amy Johnson packed into her tragically short life and this play neatly encapsulates the highlights. Whilst she gained a degree in economics and began a promising career as a legal secretary, the pull of aviation gradually took precedence as she gained a pilot’s licence and became the first woman to qualify as a ground engineer in 1929.
Hannah Edwards is instantly charming as the feisty and determined title character; while Benedict Salter is endlessly versatile playing a host of characters, including Amy’s father, husband Jim Mollison and Swiss paramour Claude. Simple props are used to maximum effect as a basic platform acts as the aircraft with the imagination easily filling in the gaps. Amy Johnson not only succeeded but excelled in a man’s world when society dictated that a woman could be no more than a mother and homemaker. Her legacy has in recent years been obscured by aviators with a bigger profile especially Amelia Earhart; but Lone Flyer re-invigorates the legend of Amy Johnson as a great exemplar and innovator.
Written by: Ade Morris
Directed by: Lucy Betts
Original Production by: Watermill Theatre
Lone Flyer is playing until 3 July as part of Jermyn Street Theatre’s Footprints Festival. Tickets are available for both in-person and streaming. Full details can be found via the below link.