Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

In her khaki jumpsuit and ponytail, writer-actor Rebecca Crookshank looks like a cute suburban 30-something. But in her solo show Whiskey Tango Foxtrot at Underbelly Cowgate’s Anderson-shelter-like White Belly room, she takes us through her brief but demanding career in the Royal Air Force, starting at her enlistment at age 17.

What sets this apart from other first-person solos is Crookshank’s immense charm, her snappy comic timing and her ability to bounce between distinctly drawn characters and voices.

It’s character comedy, with Crookshank showing off her sharp ear for accents, and it’s an honest and often biting depiction of life among the troops, male and female. There’s the loud-barking Corporal Bunting, who has to whip young women into RAF shape by ordering them to “drop and give me 20.” Press-ups, that is. And there’s the higher-up who outlines the barracks rules: “No pets and that includes pubic lice.”

Against a bouncy soundtrack that includes Danger Zone from Top Gun, Crookshank introduces us to her fellow recruits, who include a girl who speaks fluent Klingon and the friend who becomes her “Wingwoman” as they go on to be posted in far-flung locales. Crookshank ends up in the Falklands, harassed and physically abused by the 28 men in her platoon (she has video evidence that she uses in the show). That experience marks her turning point.

What sets this apart from other first-person solos is Crookshank’s immense charm, her snappy comic timing and her ability to bounce between distinctly drawn characters and voices. The best is near-mythical Air Commodore Joan Hopkins, the RAF’s first woman station commander, who appears to Crookshank as a fairy godmother to guide her toward a career in which she can be “the first penguin” instead of just another bird in the colony.

“Facing the unfamiliar can make you feel alone,” says Crookshank in her show. That she’s saying it to an audience packed with strangers happy to get to know her is a cute bit of irony.

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The Blurb

Written and performed by Rebecca Crookshank. Directed by Jessica Beck. 'Happy 17th birthday Crookshank… how ‘bout a cup of suck it the f*ck up?!' Based on Rebecca’s time in the Royal Air Force serving queen and country, protecting the UK Air Defence Region, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot charts her journey from basic training to the Falkland Islands. From feeling low to flying high (literally, in a Tornado F3), join Crookshank and a host of colourful characters on this hilarious heart warming adventure. Per ardua ad astra… Through adversity to the stars. Warning: Contains weapons, strong language, and penguins.

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