Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Oct 22 – Nov 2, 2019
Playwright: Katherine Chandler
Director: Jane Angharad
Cast: : Marvin Adler, Sarah Easterman, James Gordon, Bella Ridgway, Laura Wilson
Images by Clare Hawley
Ava is turning 16 and homeless. Her cruel mother rejects repeated efforts by Ava to mend bridges, letting the girl languish in crisis accommodation, and on the streets of her Welsh town. Katherine Chandler’s Bird is about survival, when a young person is abandoned. We look at the challenges that Ava has to negotiate having been left to her own devices, and the dangers she encounters as she does her best to stay alive.
It is a poignant story, featuring an honest portrayal of a loveless family not often seen in our storytelling. Its characters are realistic and thoroughly explored, so that we may sympathise with the depths of Ava’s despondency, and identify the hope that she never relinquishes. Directed by Jane Angharad, the production tends to be overly subtle in approach, but its emotional resonances are strong when necessary. The dynamics she renders between cast members is often moving, for an effective manifestation of the play’s generous measure of sentimentality.
Actor Laura Wilson’s authentic portrayal of innocence is crucial to how we regard Ava, along with a commendable focus and conviction that keeps us invested in the protagonist’s journey. The mother, Claire is played by Sarah Easterman, whose quiet brutality provides valuable fortification to how the plot unfolds. Mystery man Lee is given excellent depth by James Gordon, whose ambiguity creates exquisite dramatic tension for all his scenes. Marvin Adler and Bella Ridgway play Ava’s friends, both performers offering a balance of melancholy and purity, for depictions of youth that are vividly truthful.
To be unwanted by one’s parents is unimaginable for most, yet many continue to flourish in spite of this bitter deprivation. The odds against her are staggering, but Ava never gives up trying. With no choice but to be fearless, she is always able to muster the courage to march on, even if her days are aimless and sad. We have all experienced what it is like to be lost, but to brave the world when feeling unloved, is an immense tragedy, yet somehow, we are capable of it.