Review: Bombers: Reaping the Whirlwind

by Lynn on July 20, 2017

in The Passionate Playgoer

At 4th Line Theatre, Millbrook, Ont.

Written by David S. Craig
Directed by David Ferry
Lyrics and original composition by David S. Craig
Musical direction and original composition by Justin Hiscox
Costumes by Karyn McCallum
Set and Props by Glenn Davidson
Choreography by Monica Dottor
Cast: Michael Cox
Colin Doyle
Shaina Silver-Baird
Matt Gilbert
Erin Humphry
Deb Williams
Robert Winslow
And many others.

A deeply moving, emotional look at the fly-boys of WWII, their bravery, their families and how the experience affected them years later. Beautifully written by David S. Craig and directed by David Ferry.

The Story. Peter Benton (Robert Winslow) is 94, from Peterborough. He lives with his daughter Margaret. He sits in a wheelchair and is bitter about so many things mainly about his time in WWII when he was a young pilot on a bomber plane. He won’t tell Margaret anything about that time.

Kate Richie is a young British woman who comes to Canada seeking an interview with Peter. She’s doing her PHD on WWII and Peter is the last of his crew who is still alive. At first he refuses, but then slowly he begins telling her how he enlisted at 18 and was piloting a bomber when he was 20 in England. It was daunting but he did it.

It’s a story of steely resolve, loyalty, carrying for one’s men, being daring but not reckless and growing up fast.

The Production. Director David Ferry creates a production as huge and sprawling in scale as David S. Craig’s script. There is sweep and size in both the play and the production. David Ferry has staged various aerial ‘dog-fights’ as Peter and his crew try to bomb sites over Germany and in the air fighting enemy planes. One in particular is nothing short of gripping. Several ‘fly boys’ hold a large model of a Lancaster (I believe) plane above their heads. Others carry the wings that fit into the body of the plane. They then manoeuvre the plane in choreographed movement above their heads, as twenty-year-old Sgt. Peter “Petey” Benton (Michael Cox) describes the various harrowing aspects of that mission (attacked by the enemy; engines blown out; rocky flying; a severely wounded man on board and Petey would not sacrifice that young man, instead, he risked life and limb to get the wounded young man to the mainland and a hospital.)

As with all the productions at 4th Line Theatre the company of actors is a mix of community actors and professionals mainly from Toronto. The action takes place in and around the barnyard of Winslow Farm, the home of 4th Line Theatre. Characters scurry across the yard and around the barn; action happens on the upper level of the barn, in the field over there; citizens march smartly for a ceremony or other. Monica Dottor has choreographed lively dances for the company. David Ferry keeps the pace going quickly and ensuring that the level of acting, whether professional or not, is of a high standard.

As the elder Peter Benton, Robert Winslow is brusque, irritated and ornery. He is tended with infinite patience but occasionally a touch of frustration by his loyal daughter Margaret, a focused Deb Williams. Michael Cox is a dashing, confident Petey Benton. Colin Doyle plays Danny O’Neil who is that goofy, good-natured, true friend you always want around you. Shaina Silver-Baird plays Emma Ross, Petey’s reticent girlfriend, who is sweet, sassy and fearful of losing him. Erin Humphry plays Kate Richie, the attentive, tenacious PHD student with a secret of her own.

A gripping story of young men and women believing in their country, willing to make the supreme sacrifice.

Comment. David S. Craig got the idea for Bombers: Reaping the Whirlwind from one of his friends who did fight in the war. David Ferry brought his own family history—his parents were caught up in WWII—to the project and the result is a thoughtful, very funny, moving play and production about bravery and friendship. It leaves you with lots to think about and much more to be grateful for.

Produced by 4th Line Theatre.

Began: July 4, 2017.
Closes: July 29, 2017.
Running Time: 2 hours, 30 min. approx.

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