Even with the shenanigans surrounding the 75th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, it's easy to forget the bravery/insanity that must have been inside his head when he crossed the pond. The vast darkness of the nighttime journey, the yawning death of the frigid sea beneath, the tempting sleepiness of the pilot -- these extremes are highlighted with imaginative techniques in Captain Lindbergh's Ocean Flight.
The Metro Theater Company, celebrating its 30th anniversary, imported the Dutch production and performs it five times for the public, starting this weekend. The play reminds us that 70 years ago, most pilots would fly only over land because emergency landings were so common. Practically no one believed that Lindbergh could make the journey (that's why, when he landed safely, they called him "Lucky").
Flying a single-engine plane loaded down with 27,000 pounds of fuel was nuts. But the things Lindy didn't bring were more telling: no radio and no parachute. Lindbergh thought they would be too heavy.
Captain Lindbergh's Ocean Flight is a children's play that has that hard-to-define wow that makes it cool for adults, too. The play dramatizes the loneliness, the snow and the fog that Lindbergh cut through, with help from a set designed by a mechanical engineer. We don't want to ruin any surprises, but that set is a little like a Transformer robot toy -- it changes from this to that and back again.
Thirty-five percussion instruments are placed around the set, and one of the cast's three actors also serves as musician. All three play Lindbergh -- sometimes at the same time. Sometimes they also personify fog or sleep.
Original Dutch director Monique Corvers says the play is nominally about Lindbergh but truly about imagination. Along with cojones and luck, Lindy had plenty of that.