Rocket Post

Platform, Easterhouse, Glasgow

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Mary Brennan

three stars

Truth can sometimes be so much stranger than fiction, that we need to see hard facts before we’ll swallow tall tales. Here’s one that stretches credibility in a thoroughly engaging way.

The story (from 1934) of a German scientist attempting to set up an airborne mail service between Hebridean islands seems entirely possible - until you discover that Gerhard Zucker intended to use a rocket to deliver the letters. Sounds like an unscreened wheeze out of Monty Python?

Scoff not: this very newspaper reported on Zucker’s efforts at the time, a 2001 film recreated his future-forward endeavours and now the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) is touring a family-friendly show that puts Zucker and his rockets centre-stage with some added songs, a bit of puppetry and a lot of affectionate charm.

Rocket Post - written and directed by Lewis Hetherington - harks back to a pre-war era when communication wasn’t down to a mere touch of a screen, the push of a button.

Even so, this bright attractive piece isn’t really about nostalgia or retro-quaint: it’s about community, connecting with others - especially family, whether near or far - and thinking about where in the world you belong. Young Bellag (MJ Deans) is already chafing against the limits of her island life when Zucker (Gavin Swift) and his rockets arrive in a visionary blast of what the future - her future - might hold.

Ailie Cohen’s designs bring wit and humour to proceedings, Michael John McCarthy’s music shades in different moods with a cunning mix of old and new, while the cast of five ensure that the optimism at the heart of Rocket Post lifts off and flies, even if Zucker’s valiant inventions didn’t.