Flight Lessons

A new play from South African playwright Amy Jephta, Flight Lessons sees actress Saria Steel play two friends on opposite sides of the world. Both Anika and Maya are full of life - a pair of gorgeously funny, red-blooded female characters that intertwine to drive the story. Steel’s vocal performance is more than impressive, while the production uses no real set, props or costume changes, so the only way to tell the two characters apart is through Steel’s slick change in accent, from Afrikaans to British and back again.

Flight Lessons serves as a reminder that there’s always something to laugh at in the middle of all the madness.​

Jephta’s writing is the real treat here – with two characters suspended in quarter-life crises, the tone is perfect, full of frustration and bitter humour. Steel’s performance is bright and engaging, yet sharp and realistic, and encompasses all the threads in Jephta’s story with ease. The darker moments give Flight Lessons its substance, but ultimately it’s the funnier moments that carry it through. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the girls’ flippancy – nothing gets past them.

Physically, Steel is a little too self-aware, relying on over-the-top movements and gestures to fill the space by herself. Both characters move similarly – whether this is a lapse in direction or an indication of the similarities in character, it’s hard to tell. Whilst the latter would be clever, either way it makes for a confusing grasp of the narrative, which jumps through time as well as space. The single chair used as the set is jarring: Steel seems dependent on it, only bursting away for another dramatic exclamation before coiling in again. For a play so focused on using place to construct an identity, it’s interesting that Flight Lessons has avoided using any set at all.

For anyone who’s ever felt lost, even when they’re right at home, Flight Lessons serves as a reminder that there’s always something to laugh at in the middle of all the madness.

Reviews by Caitlin Hobbs

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The Blurb

'Anika tried to kill herself again' ... 'She get it right this time?' From South African playwright Amy Jephta, a dark comedy for expats who find that the grass definitely isn’t greener. Moving to London was Maya’s one shot to get out of her small town. Young, white and Afrikaans, her future is a toss between 7-Eleven checkout girl or being broke but, at the very least, international. For Anika, there was never any other choice. As Maya questions her attachment to her country, Anika confronts her friendship with the girl she thought she couldn't live without.