Rocket Post energetically explores the life of Gerhard Zucker
- Kelly Apter
- 25 September 2017
Imaginative new family show from National Theatre of Scotland finds big ideas on a small island
Like all good theatre, Rocket Post operates on more than one level. On the surface, sits the fascinating true-life story of German engineer Gerhard Zucker – a man who travelled to the Outer Hebrides in the 1930s, convinced he could design, build and fire rockets to help them send letters, when the science behind such pursuits was still in its infancy.
But there's also a deeper, possibly more important tale here – especially for children and young people in the audience – about looking beyond your own doorstep for fulfilment, and the many tiny adventures that make up a life.
Written and directed by Lewis Hetherington, this National Theatre of Scotland production refuses to spoon feed its audience, and rightly so. The unusual names and complicated information attached to the history of rocket science are woven into the text with minimal explanation – some of it will go in, most of it won't, but what matters here is the introduction of ideas. And the bulk of the show is dedicated to a very simple, understandable and identifiable tale of family life.
Young Bellag is captivated by Zucker's actions, because it's so far removed from her day-to-day life. His vision and drive inspires her to potentially leave behind her tiny island home, much to the dismay of her mother – who has already bid farewell to Bellag's older brother, when he emigrated to Canada.
Although set in 1934, which will seem a million years ago to young audience members, Bellag's dilemma and the desire to please your parents yet go your own way is timeless. Hetherington also has a thing or two to say about how we communicate, during a witty exchange in which Zucker claims a hand-held device would never replace human interaction. Hmm.
Delivered by an energetic five-strong cast of actor-musicians, who play and sing their way around Ailie Cohen's imaginative set, Rocket Post should ignite conversations worthy of Zucker's enquiring mind.
Seen at Platform, Glasgow