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Print Version

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2013
Birds of Paradise (2013)
Conceived and created by Morag Magnolia Brownlie

at Hamilton Gardens Lakeside Stage, Hamilton
From 21 Feb 2013 to 22 Feb 2013
[90 mins]

Reviewed by Brenda Rae Kidd, 21 Feb 2013


The opening night of Birds of Paradise was whimsical, funny, erotic and beautifully set by the lakeside at Hamilton Gardens.

One could add more superlatives but there is something that should be said above all else …'Get ye along tonight (and anyone you can grab) to witness this treat! Do not miss this opportunity to see a world-class production - here in the Tron - while you can.

Birds of Paradise is described as a romantic, birdlesque comedy.  It sure is that and so much more. A creation of Morag Magnolia Brownlie, Birds of Paradise is a sumptuous sensory feast.  Ms Brownlie is to be applauded for her originality – which borders on eccentricity – as this work mixes cabaret, burlesque, dance, comedy and ornithology into something that quite defies any genre of its own.

Staged outdoors for the very first time, the surrounding vista of lake, willowy trees, reeds and starlight night are so much part of the appeal.  It is hard to imagine that Birds of Paradise were not designed for such. A dizzying array of costumes, so breathtakingly beautiful and strikingly reminiscent of our feathered friends, are molded to the dancers lithe bodies as they glide strut and peck across the stage. The musical accompaniment is evocative and thoughtfully arranged by New Zealand musician and composer Sean James Donnelly (SJD) and peppered with gems from Gold Frapp, Bonobo and Sola Rosa. Well-known New Zealand songstress Caitlin Smith's voice is in fine fettle as she opens the evening with birdsong.  The dancers are all accomplished artists in their own right and this shows in their athleticism and poise on what is actually a very small stage.

The enchanted expressions on the faces of the audience said it all.  Many of the women had adorned their best fascinator for the spectacle and were aptly rewarded for their efforts.  Audience participation is an aspect of this performance that is enjoyed by cast and onlookers alike.

Birds of Paradise deserves accolades beyond this writer's effort.


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