Clouds

Laura Crow
Time and Again Theatre Company
Kings Head Theatre
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Clouds gives us a gentle, fascinating glimpse of three women trying to make a difference in the world of 1913.

A small silver and white plane dominates the back of the performance space and Winifred Baxter (Laura Crow), going by the name Freddie, intends to fly it.

Never mind that the pilot Philip (Tim Cooper) is reluctant to let her, demands a signed authorisation from a man and payment of a substantial sum of money. She will fly that plane and has her eye on winning a difficult flying competition.

In the process, she will be abused by letter, be disapproved of by others and worry her shy, slightly awkward brother Theodore (Kieran Palmer) who signs the authorisation.

But these are changing times for women. Freddie’s friend Sylvia (Jessica Balmer) is being drawn to the militancy of the Suffragettes and talks about hunger strikes and chucking rotten fruit at rotten Members of Parliament.

All this is a bit much for Lady Sara (Julia Burrow) who, though long before was herself interested in flying, has learned to adjust her life to the world of her husband. And that means no flying, no support for the suffrage movement and limiting herself to helping at the local hospital, something which has the occasionally flirtatious Philip saying, “It makes me, positively, to long for a fever.”

The performance is always confident and engaging with touches of humour.

Freddie, whose own mother may have suffered an injustice, will have to struggle hard to achieve her goal, especially when signs of illness start to appear. But with fantastic courage, she will not give up, she will stand her ground, quoting the words of Emily Brontë:

“Clouds beyond clouds above me, Wastes beyond wastes below; But nothing dear can move me: I will not, cannot go.“

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna