The Flying Machine

The Flying Machine, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $15-20. B Street Theatre’s Family Series Stage, 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300; Through November 19.
Rated 5.0

Everything’s right about the B Street Theatre’s Family Series production of The Flying Machine, which introduces us to brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright. This imaginatively written, wonderfully acted and amazingly creative production of the Wright Brothers’ aerial adventures also includes an almost-to-scale replica of the brothers’ first airplane, as well as actual historic black-and-white photos and film.

The adaptation of the first flight story, skillfully written by B Street’s Jerry R. Montoya, tells the tale of the two bicycle-building brothers whose journey toward their first flight is filled with frustrations, wonderment, moxie and awe. Through historical references to other plane pioneers as well as explanations of basic mechanics, the play illustrates the physics of flight which led to an air vehicle that could be steered—the major adjustment that differentiated planes from gliders.

But the story is lightened along the way with playful sibling banter in the form of teasing dialogue and physical jabs between the two brothers, who are very different from each other but who both strive for the same magical goal. It’s gripping, funny and a true flight of fancy presented by a perfectly chosen four-person cast of B Street regulars: John Lamb as Orville Wright, Jason Kuykendall as Wilbur Wright, with David Silberman and Casey McClellan as a plethora of colorful characters who help move the story along.

Equally impressive is the production. Major kudos to the staging, costumes, music and props. A beautiful color-rich painted frame with illustrations apropos of the time period surrounds the stage, and a back screen flashes historic photos of the brothers’ lives as well as footage of the actual first flight that the audience gleefully celebrates when the plane finally takes to the air.

When the almost-to-scale aero-wings drop down from the ceiling, there is a gasp of excitement as well as a grasp of what is to come. In a nice gesture, after the play, you’re invited to pose next to the plane for photos.