Writer: Katherine Chandler
Director: Rachel O’Riordan
Reviewer: Jaclyn Martin
The pure white tiles of the set are covered in putrid mildew and the yellow-orange stains of rust. This is what happens when something is left without loving care for too long. This is the story of young Ava, a girl on the cusp of adulthood who has never known the nurturing love of family.
Sherman’s resident playwright, Katherine Chandler won the Judges Award in the revered Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting for Bird back in 2013. Three years later, she’s teamed up with Sherman’s Artistic Director, Rachel O’Riordan – fresh from directing recently acclaimed hit Iphigenia in Splott – to breathe life into a story that has to be told.
The main character, Ava is that “bird who has fallen from the nest”. With an impressive array of acting credits to her name, Georgia Henshaw tackles this demanding role. She manages to capture sparrow-like mannerisms and attribute them to the character through movement and the twittering, fast-paced pattern of her speech. The tough, vulgar bravado she adopts does not hide her fragility, innocence and sweetness. It is almost painful to watch her have to deal with things no child should have to – including a tirade of abuse and accusation from the mother she tries to reconcile with, played with unrelenting honesty by Siwan Morris.
The scenes between Ava and Lee (Guy Rhys) held the most intrigue, with lots going on under the surface. Initially, he seems to offer anescape from her troubles, only to bring them more starkly to light.
Dan (Connor Allen) didn’t particularly add much dimension to the story, though he does provide the prospect of hopeful love. The bond between Ava and best friend Tash (Rosie Sheehy) offers better insight into the potential for undemanding, unquestioning love in her world, and could be explored more.
This is a powerful script, which starts off a little stilted, but becomes more comfortable as the story progresses. There were moments of tired observations – such as how there are more means of communication, but fewer people are communicating – but otherwise the themes are fresh and offering insight into a worldthat many people never really see.
It’s a difficult play to watch, forcing us to admit that we don’t always see the suffering of those who have been cast aside, but it’s an important issue and a well spent hour that’ll have you thinking hard and feeling deeply.
Runs until 28 May 2016 | Image:Farrows Creative