Conquest of the Air, my middle show of the day, is one of those shows that make the Fringe experience so interesting. This is a storytelling show by Wayne James. It is not the best show in the Fringe, but I am glad I went.
Conquest of the Air Review
James’s show traces both the evolution of heavier than air flight, and his own fascination with flying.
Much like World’s Fair 1876, helps unveil areas around the beginning of heavier than air flight that flesh out the roles that people other than Wright brothers played. You should look at the Wright brothers in a whole new light after watching Conquest of the Air.
Of course, despite the Wright brothers efforts to control how the story is told, James brings to life the stories of many other who contributed greatly to the development of heavy than air flight. If they were alive today, the Wright brothers would likely spend all their time as TikTok influencers rather than offering society anything of real value.
James’s own story is also fascinating. A story of craftmanship and dedication, that doesn’t always turn out the way he hopes it will. From childhood dreams to adulthood attempts at fulfillment, James has a lot to offer on the storytelling front.
flight history, personal history
The Fringe site blurb, in the link above. talks about he way in which James weaves his own story with the story of the history of flight. This is one area where I feel the show falls down a little. The weave is a little loose and could benefit from some tightening.
This is unforunate, as James has put a lot of work into researching the story. Plus he is an engaging and likeable storyteller. He has a sly wit that pops up unexepectedly to add a change of pace to the story.
It also might help the show flow a little more naturally. There were two or three times where James needed his tech to help get him back on track. There is a lot of material and names in the historical section, and breaking those sections up a bit could help the overall flow of the show.
One reason I encourage you to go, is that sometimes a larger audience is enough to give a performer an emotional lift. No matter how much you prepare for a show a tiny audience is always a bit of a letdown. Not all fringe performers are experienced artists with a professional performance background. James, like so many others, could use the boost a large, engaged audience brings.
Also, this show has good bones. It just needs a little fleshing out to make it a really good show.