“Mrs Roosevelt Flies to London”, Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Margaret Rose in George Square
19 August 2022

Mrs Roosevelt Flies to London is a woman’s story, written and performed by Alison Skilbeck. The piece draws on considerable research into the private and public life of Eleanor Roosevelt, America’s longest serving First Lady.

The author gained permission to use material from Roosevelt’s diaries and she performs her story in a manner that zigzags back and forth but ultimately illustrates that the writing is extremely well crafted.

We start from the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis (a moment as existential as anything that occurred on the watch of Eleanor’s husband) and return to end with this incident, just a few months before Eleanor Roosevelt’s death. The middle sequence sees short scenes set during the First and Second World Wars.

Accompanied by many costume changes, this gifted performer gives us insight into Eleanor’s life in the highest echelons of society where she used her power and influence to simply ‘be useful’, as she modestly repeats, but also to further the cause of women’s emancipation.

When in London she talks with Queen Mary and Churchill’s wife, Clementine, among others, but also hunts out the brave women flying aircraft with the RAF. Not by chance, one feels, was Roosevelt given the code name, ‘Rover’.

The story, highlighting the achievements and the difficulties (her marriage with Roosevelt was far from smooth) of  this remarkable woman, is beautifully written and performed.