• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

WHITE ROSE, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

When Peter Arnott's play about a squadron of Second World War female fighter pilots premiered at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre in 1985, the notion of powerful women, and indeed women in power, was very much part of the agenda.

More than a quarter of a century on, and the true story of Lily Litvik, who marked her kills with white roses on her aeroplane's tail, remains a fascinating look at a piece of hidden history, as well as a metaphor for a gender war that continues.

It opens with Lily and her engineer friend Ina drafted in to sex-up recruitment films. It ends with Lily grounded for a final time. In between we see her square up to an all-male world without compromising her faith in a greater cause. Lesley Harcourt's Lily is a driven young woman who knows what she wants and usually gets it. When that comes to her flight commander Alexei, the age-old ideological contradictions between the personal and the political come to the fore as even love becomes part of the struggle.

Richard Baron's long overdue revival of the play for the Borders-based Firebrand company flits between intimate naturalistic exchanges and more choreographed out-front addresses from Alison O'Donnell's Ina and Robert Jack's Alexei that resemble heroic social-realist posters come to life. The projections on to Edward Liscomb's set of symmetrical steel lockers flanking the stage add to the effect.

Seen today, White Rose is a play that looks back twice, first to the play's setting, then to the time it was written. Crucially, both were periods in history when revolution seemed possible. For Lily, alas, the romantic adventure was over all too soon.

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.