Aired on KSDS-FM on 5/3/19
RUN DATES: 4/6/19 – 5/12/19
VENUE: The Old Globe
There seems to be a never-ending list of women whose significant contributions were ignored, demeaned, usurped, hidden or overridden by men.
Some of these trailblazers and heroines of history, who should be household names, are finally being brought out of the shadows.
The latest revelations come in a provocative, informative and incisive play having its West coast premiere at The Old Globe.
“They Promised Her the Moon” tells the story of skilled aviator, world-record-holding pilot and would-be astronaut Jerrie Cobb. In 1960, she was one of 13 females standing alongside the famous Mercury Seven, whom NASA was training to become the first American astronauts. She out-performed her male counterparts in all the rigorous testing, including lasting twice as long as the men in the isolation tank.
But she and her female colleagues were pushed aside, their chance at flying to the moon jettisoned by machismo and misogyny. Even the noteworthy female flier, Jackie Cochran, thought the timing wasn’t right.
Then, in 1963, at the height of the hyper-competitive Space Race, the Russians put the first woman in space – 20 years before the Americans finally got around to it.
From the time she was a little girl in Oklahoma, Jerrie Cobb knew “the sky was meant to be” her home. Despite the obstacles put in her way, she never lost her obsession, up until her death this year at age 88.
Laurel Ollstein’s excellent, inventively-structured play works wonderfully in the round at the Globe’s White Theatre. The all-female design team has created an outstanding setting for the story. Giovanna Sardelli’s imaginative direction is crisp and well-paced.
And the performances are superb. The supple cast of six, most playing multiple roles, seem like a dozen or more. The female fliers are the best developed characters, and they’re marvelously inhabited by Morgan Hallett as Jerrie and Mary Beth Fisher as Jackie.
This is an old story that never grows old in the telling. For every one of these women whose lives are dusted off and burnished anew, we are all the better for the awareness and insight.
©2019 PAT LAUNER