Geeks a Gogo had the pleasure of attending another amazing show by Chicago’s Otherworld Theater—Rogue Aviator. Otherworld Theater is known for it’s geek-inspired shows, often working in the science fiction genre. Rogue Aviator was just the type of show you would expect from them: a swashbuckling action-adventure story set in a steampunk world of flying cities and air pirates. Once again, Otherworld brought the story to life with incredible acting, sets, and costumes.
Set in the city of Olympus, a flying city hovering over the western United States in the 1920’s, the story is punctuated with radio broadcasts that give us a glimpse of an alternate history set in the early radio age. The opening sequence shows us a world soon after the great war, in which air pirates dressed in flashy outfits clash with a band of female ace pilots. These ladies, despite being some of the city's best pilots and defenders, are shunned by the city's patriarchal air commander, Duke McHale (R. Scott Purdy), who doesn't believe that women should fly planes. Ace pilot, Ellie McLoud (Moira Begale) and a female air pirate captain, Cilino Falco (Mary Kate Arnold) are about to challenge the status quo in Olympus.
Summary (Spoilers ahead):
After Ellie shoots down the plane of the famed air pirate Sky Wolf (Jacob Bates), the pirate Cilino Falco tracks him down and finishes him off, declaring herself the leader of the air pirates. She then tries to recruit the best ace pilots in Olympus, starting with Annabelle Swift (Sara Robinson), who refuses the offer, and dies at the hands of the pirates. We soon get a glimpse into Ellie's past, learning of her relationship with Annabelle, who raised her after she ran away from home--and her past with Cillino, her former partner and lover. Cilino soon finds herself at odds with Ellie when she discovers that Cilino was behind Annabelle's death.
Cillino, not letting up goes further, preparing to launch an attack on Olympus, she takes out the city's military leader, Commaner Duke. Upon his death, we see a flashback to an earlier time, revealing the cause of his relationship with his estranged daughter--Ellie. In a moving scene, young Ellie (Molly Southgate), argues with her father over her desire to join the military as an ace pilot, and her father's refusal to let his daughter fly a plane.
Coming back to the present, the story enters the final confrontation. The aces rally against the pirates, who plan to use an airship to attack the city during the commander's funeral as the commander--Ellie's brother--(Dylan Schaefer) addresses the city. The lady aces sneak onto the airship to blow it up, as Ellie faces off with Cilino one last time. Having saved the city, the aces are rewarded in the end, recognized for their bravery, and finally accepted for their skills as ace pilots.
Rogue Aviator was directed by Otherworld Theater founder, Tiffany Keane-Schaefer. Set designer Jessica Howe, costume designer Stefanie Johnson, and lighting designer David Goodman-Edberg create an amazing atmosphere that brought this steam-punk world to life. The premiere run of this show has ended, but we hope Otherworld will put on another production of this amazing show in the future.