SALT LAKE CITY — The Sunday showing of The Night Witches by Rachel Bublitz and produced by Egyptian YouTheatre was a madhouse. I was excited by the crowd, anticipating this show being amazing and worth the long line and wait to get in. Even getting a front row seat that had been fairly easy at other fringe shows proved impossible, because right after sitting, I was asked to move because the seat was reserved for the photographer. The show was certainly not a disappointment.
The plot follows the historical group of the first women pilots in the Soviet Union who would drop bombs every 15 minutes nightly over the Nazis during WWII. The all-female cast consisted of two officers, three pilots with three navigators, and one mechanic. As they prepared for their next mission, Vera, played by Katherine Ward, was fearful to go on her first flight as navigator. Her co-soldiers encouraged Vera and finally the mission came to drop the bombs. The show is a sad reminder of the dangers of war as well as a heroic view of women trailblazers.
I appreciated the directing by Alexandrea Harbold that kept the scenes interesting, like when most of the women had a foot-race to a tree and back, they all faced the side wall and broke into a sprinting motion, freezing there for the duration of the race. The results of the lighting design done by Peter Mayhew were effective, helping the search lights and enemy fire seem much more intense.
Kate Moss as Seraphima had a more challenging role, trying to be the best pilot and soldier and at the same time a hopeless romantic. Moss and Ward played off each other well while flying in the airplane and raising the tension of the situation. Moss did the difficult part justice.
I didn’t know about this part of history and was pleasantly surprised to learn more about The Night Witches. This show is definitely a good show to see. The cast does well in their roles, and the premise is interesting. Tickets sell fast, so hurry before they sell out.