The Mercury 13
by Gilles Messier
MaxQ Productions - Winnipeg, MB
V.22 - MTYP - Richardson Hall 
In the early 1960s, 13 female pilots underwent secret medical exams to test their suitability as astronauts. Unfortunately, the world was not yet ready for their dream of reaching the stars. In The Mercury 13, a cast of local Winnipeg actors brings to life this amazing true story of forgotten space pioneers.

Cast:
Brian Flynn, Karam Daoud, KB Greenhill, Alison Kolisnyk, Kylee Kolesar, Sarah Lazar, Jacques Leger, Lisa Maslyk, Gilles Messier, Ruth Reitze

 
Show Info:
60 Mins
Tickets: $12
$10 Students, Fringe performers, kids (12 & under)

Genre:
Play-Drama

Audience:
Parental Guidance

Warnings: Mild language

Wed July 17 9:30 PM
Thu July 18 7:45 PM
Fri July 19 7:45 PM
Sun July 21 9:00 PM
Thu July 25 7:45 PM
Fri July 26 7:45 PM
Sat July 27 9:00 PM
Sun July 28 2:45 PM

The Mercury 13

MaxQ Productions—MTYP – Richardson Hall

The real life inspiration for the play is an extraordinary group of women pilots who hoped to be included in the Mercury space program. Unfortunately, through NASA’s lack of belief in their ability to do the job, fueled by the male test pilot environment, they did not get a chance to prove themselves. The story mostly centers around Jerrie Cobb, the first woman to be tested as the male Mercury astronauts were, and Jacqueline Cochran, the first woman to break the sound barrier and who funded the initial round of testing. The show’s author used a number of historical sources to create it and the show program is a great source of information about all the women and the space race of that time.

While the individual performances were good, I think the play itself was kind of clunky. There are many quick short scenes throughout, some of which had to be setup by moving tables or other props around, and sometimes the setup lasted just as long as the scene. There are also some longer scenes, such as a back and forth letter communication between Cobb and Cochran which seem a little awkward and drawn out. Near the end we see a Congressional hearing on NASA’s discrimination, which I believe was based on actual transcripts, to show some of the ingrained culture the women were up against. The hearing also shows they were also fighting an unexpected enemy as well. The play concludes with the completely opposite way in which the Russians selected their first female Cosmonaut. Perhaps the story is a little too big for the format and time available in a live Fringe show which makes it hard to convey completely.

Murray Hunter