Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Eve’s aiming for the stars and isn’t about to let any entrenched attitudes or prejudices get in her way. Feisty and fearless, she refuses to take “no” for an answer believing that ability is what counts in the end.
There’s an encouragingly young demographic queuing to find out why It’s Not Rocket Science, Nottingham New Theatre’s quest to discover why it remains such a challenge for women to land a career in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) arena, never mind ascend like a rocket on a journey to the stars.
National treasure Hannah Fry has done wonders for women trying to be heard above the noise that generally emanates from the male of the species, and particularly the pale, aged and stale cohort. But there’s a lot more that could be done to help potential scientific cream rise to the top, whatever its gender or ethnicity.
Eve is fascinated by anything to do with stars and space rockets are much more cool things to play with than Barbie dolls. But the Earthlings, including her parents, keep bringing her back down with a disappointing bump. Enter an inspirational Physics teacher during the formative part of Eve’s education who encourages her to take the plunge and embark on a science-based university degree which leads to a doctorate and a career as an aerospace engineer.
This forty-minute piece of verbatim theatre cleverly weaves interviews (as informative segues or as stand-alone scenes) from over twenty women who’ve forged a path in the male-dominated aerospace industry, with the journey of discovery that is Eve’s career. Or should that be obstacle race, given the myriad hurdles she has to negotiate?
Eve’s story is told with elan by the charismatic India Agravat with Kishan Ganatra and Caitie Pardoe providing robust support in a variety of roles, ranging from caring parents to condescending conference host through to the most misogynistic of employers. And the whole thing is consummately directed by the impressive Ylana Gilbert.
Whilst the occasional scripting sledgehammer is deployed to crack a small nut, the piece gets its central point across; that unless attitudinal change accelerates, we’re in danger of losing another generation of emerging scientific talent – this time from Generation Z. Pale, male and stale still man the industrial barricades, be it in aerospace engineering or the sciences in general. It shouldn’t take a pandemic to raise the profile/career prospects of women in STEM related professions.
This is an excellent, warm-hearted piece of theatre – capable, empathetic acting combined with clever use of humour imparts the message without lecturing the audience. The script has been well researched and edited and the action carefully choreographed within the confines of a tight stage. The use of a flip chart as a signboard was a neat way of signalling just where we were in the story without interrupting its flow and lighting was supportive of the action unfolding on stage.
And the touching denouement reminded everyone that it’s making your own path that counts. Don’t take “no” for an answer and never be afraid to shoot for the stars. Recommended viewing!