Spitfire Sisters at the Space
Rosie the Riveter is largely the image that comes to mind when thinking of women in the war effort. She’s become the emblem for women who did. Yet, the singular lives of those behind the poster remain hazy. At the Space, Spitfire Sisters tackles the fierce and largely unrecognised lives of female pilots of the ATA, Air Transport Auxiliary, who assisted the RAF by ferrying new planes during WWII. Set in their airbase, the play shows the women waiting for their daily assignment, a life-threatening journey through British skies to their male counterparts stationed across the country.
The script, written by Catherine Comfort, Doc Anderson-Bloomfield and Heather Dunmore collectively under the name Three of a Kind is choppy but heartfelt. The ambitious work tackles women’s equality, class and dabbles in wartime love affairs. The writing trio packs a lot in without truly crafting a succinct throughline. Plot points rise and resolve in a flash – one involving a lesbian crush might be missed if you sneeze at the wrong moment. An outburst from the play’s token man feels equally unfounded. Moments like these eradicate the possibility of a dramatic tug.
The high calibre of acting polishes the script’s rougher moments. Chloe Wade as the ferocious Northern fighter shines as a determined but vulnerable force. The piece’s humour is driven by the tired tensions between newly landed United States pilots and their British hosts, whom the playwrights endlessly emphasise are two countries separated by a common language. The British are polite; the Americans are brash. Unsurprisingly, they find common ground in their fight against Jerry.
Ultimately, Spitfire Sisters is a kind play. A rationed Britain with its tattered rugs, scarce-but-worn furniture and stiff upper lips is the backdrop to the struggle for equal pay – a fight as depressingly timely now as it was then. Each pilot is given room to take up space as the ensemble protagonists delve into their personal struggles, illuminating the internal forces stretching the heroines thin as war wages on.
Photo: Liz Isles
Spitfire Sisters is at the Space from 2nd July until 6th July 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.