Review: Propeller

Youth attempt to improve their hometown's infrastructure lacks action

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Aug 2018
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As an ensemble piece, Propeller is more a half-hearted call to arms than it is a powerful driving force. Director Caitlin Skinner may hope to showcase the potential for a younger generation to be a vehicle for social change, but this show just paints them as a bunch of hapless, incapable scatterbrains.

In attempting political activism, Propeller teaches about self-belief and yet lacks confidence. Some scenes are full of heart – a spoken word apology deftly delivered by Rachael Keller and Isla Fairfield, or the concluding protest set to George Michael’s ‘Faith’. But these isolated instances highlight Propeller’s need for further development to help it discover its own identity.

Despite the best intentions from the cast, the production stalls during much of Estlin Love’s choreographed sequences. The actions themselves lack conviction or purpose - movement without energy. The script is a disparate ensemble collaboration that sacrifices overall meaning in its attempt to fairly apportion lines between the performers. 

Given the overwhelming evidence that generation Z can have a real impact by raising their voices—the Parkland students are a prime example—Propeller seems a step backward. Skinner’s show rightly portrays a combination of youthful anger and energetic naivety, which both come with desperately wanting to change the world. But the production is unable to convey the possibility that such a ground-breaking shift might actually happen. Every movement has to start somewhere. Why not with a group of kids who want to improve their town by reinstating its railway?