Fringe review: Amelia

Deal fantastic, but Amelia still missing...

Amelia is the story of the mysterious disappearance of one woman – one woman whose skill, determination and independence have made her legendary, even before her extraordinary and unexplained vanishing. It seems like the perfect material for a one-woman show.

And Jenifer Deal is the perfect woman for it. Her outstanding voice, in particular, brings to the role of Amelia Earhart a range and quality that are truly impressive. I have never heard the word “spouse” spat out with such venom, and the changing tones of the repeated line “Fuel low, but we are going on” were extraordinary.

The other characters in the story are either entirely absent or represented by a recorded voice. This choice seemed arbitrary. I found myself wishing that all the talking had been left to the accomplished Deal. The villainous voice of the evil Lieutenant who interrogated Earhart bordered on – but did not achieve - comedy. The recorded material distracted from the story and performance. It also required heavy dependence on precise technical timing. Here, as in other aspects, it was the play itself, and the production, rather than the performance, which was at fault. The transitions in the script are clumsy and the scenes are often not given enough time to establish a connection with what has already happened.

It is unfortunate that such rich material, and such an accomplished actor, should not be given true value. But I was left coldly admiring the performance, without making a sincere connection to the story or character.

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