Conference of the Birds, Theatre Paradok
Reviewed by: Daniel Regan
While I’ve heard many undignified howls of irrepressible laughter this year, Conference of the Birds is the first time at the Fringe I’ve experienced a well harmonised collection of bird noises. This bold piece of physical theatre delivers them and more.
The work is based on the original 12th Century poetry and unsurprisingly the characters are birds. The themes of the performance are deep and at times approach the inane. We explore the triumph and failure of humankind, the qualities of the human condition and our most raw emotions, all of which made manifest in the behaviour of birds. We examine idolatry, spirituality and a very tangible self-recrimination.
The cast contains solid young theatre talent who carry the roles with exciting conviction. It’s enjoyable to watch their compelling interpretations of ecstasy, melancholy and a passion that almost hints at the sexual. Darla Eno (Sparrow) is the most impressing and demonstrates a striking command of stage and committal to character.
Sadly the musicians are largely redundant and completely absent at the moments that could benefit the greatest. The contrived comic moments flop as well. However the main failings of the show are those of the text and production and not the performers.
On the whole it is a justifiably good show that engages the audience with fantastical storytelling. Maybe a longer Fringe run would iron out the creases.