A fast-paced wartime comedy set in Cairo and inspired by ex-Secret Intelligence Service Officer Basil Davidson’s book Special Operations Europe: Scenes from the Anti-Nazi War, first published in 1980.
Cairo, 1942. Pompous and domineering Colonel Gore, known affectionately as ‘The Hippo’, is bending army rules whereby if he is found to be in command of three officers of the same rank as his own he shall be promoted. Therefore, all he needs is three newly minted Brigadiers and he’ll become General. However, the word on the wireless is that the campaign to fight the Nazis in Yugoslavia has been overrun by a highly effective partisan group run by an enigmatic leader called Tito. The problem is that the British have been sending aid to General Mihailovic, who doesn’t seem to be firing on all, or any cylinders, and may even be colluding with the Nazis. Hippo decides to send them weapons to help their cause, but without the support of his immediate superiors, he’s going to have to do it the hard way.
The Desert Air was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1984.