I genuinely didn’t know what I was going to see on Saturday night. But I’m all for new experiences and frankly always keen for a night out.
The venue for the preview of Birdy was a little unexpected. A pretty bare (and on the way in extremely cold) space with ropes, silks and a trapeze hanging from the ceiling and basic chair seating. We sat on the front row and were told before it began that things might happen towards us. We’d be fine if we just leant back. Normal theatre performances don’t have that kind of excitement more’s the pity. I just hoped I had the wherewithall to respond quick enough. No-one wanted to see a 39 year old fall of a bench at a pivotal moment.
I haven’t read the book by William Wharton or seen the film. But even so after last night I can definitely say I get it. In 75 minutes the cast presented and engaged us in a story of war, friendship, madness and escapism. And it was done with tenderness, humour and breathtaking aerial performance. Yep, it’s safe to say I was impressed.
Of course the idea of a man who wants to be a canary lends itself quite well to aerial performance. But doing it in a way that moves the audience is something to be seen. Birdy’s actual flight is that of a broken desperate man. I would never have expected to be so moved.
The whole cast and directors are to be commended. It is clearly a huge challenge to present something important in this way. Melding together dialogue, emotion, humour, music and stunning aerial performance is quite some feat.
I wish someone had been there to take photographs of the audience. I know my face must have moved through quite some emotions during the show, including genuine awe. And slight terror when I, fortunately, did manage to lean back on time.
I wish Osborne and What and all the amazing cast of Birdy the best in their tour around the UK. They deserve huge eclectic audiences who are keen to see something different and powerful. Go see it, and let me know what you think.