Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Credit: Cecilia Cooper-Colby

Rebecca Crookshank offers a lively serio-comic account of her time spent in the RAF

As she rips the innards from her stuffed penguin with vengeful fury under strobe lighting, Rebecca Crookshank is clearly undergoing something of a catharsis in her autobiographical one-woman show about her experiences of the Royal Air Force. Having stood between UK residents and various lurking enemies as part of her military service, Crookshank has a rich vein of anecdotes to share, illustrated by a series of vivid impressions and costume changes that bring her characters to life in a fashion that might have pleased the late Joyce Grenfell, were it not for the scatological detail of her story.

Crookshank seems to have drawn inspiration from Top Gun in her career choice; Kenny Loggins’ anthem ‘Danger Zone’ is one of the musical cues that she uses, but her show is anything but a straight-laced view of aviation training. Not an alco-pop binge nor a casual sexual escapade goes undescribed as she plots her course to the Falkland Islands and beyond, taking in such outré subjects as hazing and painkiller abuse as she does so. It’s the skilful way that Crookshank mixes the serious and the comic that makes her show a stand-out, using video footage to bear out her memories and switching deftly from black humour to upbeat cheer.

Crookshank may be less than a footnote in the history of the Royal Air Force, but the verve and gusto she brings to her story marks her out as a considerable talent to watch; as a woman in a male-dominated environment, she unflinchingly describes her battle to make it as a girl, more than playing her part in a boys’ world.

Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug (not 17), 4.30pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9).

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

  • 4 stars

Based on Rebecca Crookshank’s time in the Royal Air Force Whiskey Tango Foxtrot charts her journey from basic training to the Falkland Islands and celebrates the wonderful women who forged a path for others in the military.