Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Birdy @ The Hurly Burly

The Hurly Burly, 25/5/12, Brighton Fringe Festival

Photo from here

It occurred to us that the entire Brighton Festival and Festival Fringe had passed without us really noticing. Determined to enjoy something on offer with only 3 days remaining, we discovered Birdy. It is described as a 'fizzling, dark fairytale...with live music and physical mayhem,' on the festival website...and it truly is a fantastic and hilarious twist on the classic fairy tale that I would highly recommend! Click below for a synopsis and review...

The play has two characters- Birdy, a female performer, and her suitor and future husband. The other three actors play Birdy's virtues; her grace, joy, and beautiful voice, and also provide the music. Birdy's life is a success, but she has never been in love until one day a man catches her eye and her heart. After getting married, moving in together and having a baby, disaster strikes: one by one, Birdy's virtues leave her.

The costumes are very cleverly adapted to show how domesticity constrains Birdy - from under the wedding dress there appears a washing line hung with rubber gloves, dustpans and baby clothes, and this is wound tightly around her. The bridal veil is pulled over Birdy's head to become an apron, covering the mixing bowl Birdy was using, which becomes a clear sign of her pregnancy. 

This play is about what happens after the 'happily ever after', where most fairytales leave the newlywed couple. 

Birdy has to battle in order to regain her virtues, to find that she still has the grace, joy, and voice that she had before she married; basically she is regaining her agency and the power she had before she became 'owned' by her husband and child. 

It was a funny and charming play that the audience could feel involved in, however Birdy's quick turnaround didn't seem very believable, and it wasn't obvious what triggered her recovering her sense of self. Furthermore, up until her recovery Birdy's voice had been played by the voice virtue, and Birdy only speaks afterwards - this seems to show that Birdy wasn't in control of herself before anyway, and instead of being owned by her family responsibilities, was owned by her virtues and the fame they brought her.

But Birdy was a fantastic experience and a truly magical part of the Festival, and if the production tours then I would highly recommend it!

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