Birds of Paradise Highlights
10/11/2011 - 11/11/2011
“With outstanding use of sound and costume… a genius of casting… Full of surprises, moments of pathos and sexually competitive humour…
Bird dancers: Georgie Goater, Seonaid Lyons, Mike Holland, Vivio Ramos Julie Van Renen, Claire Barrett, and Sophie Brooke Taylor
Singers/Actors: James Crompton, Morag Brownlie
Music selection: Morag Brownlie
Sound operator/live mix/backing recordings: Oliver Marco
Live vocals: Morag Brownlie, James Crompton, Seonaid Lyons, Mike Holland
Terrifically clever, wonderfully funny
Review by Natalie Dowd 11th Nov 2011
Planning on a well deserved night out, just to sit, relax and enjoy, and to hopefully forget the trials and tribulations of 2011, (and the guilt that I am meant to be somewhere else, but had tickets bought for me before I knew the date clashed), I have simply come to the show, ignoring the call for reviewers.
But once the show begins, I find I simply have to write about it, despite the absence of pen and notebook. Much has already been said (see reviews linked at the foot of this page) so I am not going to break it down piece by piece. I’d prefer you go and chew it yourself, along with yummy pizza and a nice drink in the rustic setting that is The Sawmill Café.
So, this is “not a review”, or let’s say, given my lack of notes and time it’s going to be the quickest review I’ve ever written, minus research. What I do know is that Birds was first presented in 2009 and has had several outings, with some cast changes, and some editing and choreographic changes as the show has matured. Unfortunately, as this is my first viewing, I am unable to make comparisons.
Amongst all the superlatives available to a reviewer, one word I have never used is “original”, but this show is all that. At last: Something truly different, and for me; the complete package. It’s a unique mix of entertainment, art, costumes to die for, laughs, fun, audience participation, delightful surprises, and not least of all, great fusion of dance genres within the clever choreography performed by fully focused, and completely committed dancers.
‘Oldies’ Mike Holland, Georgie Goater and Seonaid Lyons, are joined by new recruits Vivio Ramos Julie Van Renen, Claire Barrett, and Sophie Brooke Taylor. All have become Birds, embodying their bird characters in finely honed bodies with clarity, precision and flair. Morag Magnolia Brown clearly has a knack for getting the best out of her menagerie and as a ‘mostly human’ does a fine job herself alongside James Crompton aka David Attenborough. Julie Van Renen fits in nicely, and her final, at times breathtaking duet with Mike Holland is most memorable.
There are too many highlights to mention, but if I have to pick just one thing that takes this show above and beyond, it would be the fantastic comedic timing and inclusion of current ‘funnies’. In this regard Mike Holland in particular has to be mentioned for his performances. Again, I am not going to give anything away. Suffice to say that Birds of Paradise is erotic without being rude, sensuous, beautiful, touching, captivating, hilarious fun and then, ‘Nek Minnit’: A death and an ecology lesson!!
The lighting is simple, and the music, which is varied and flits from recorded to live song delivered beautifully surprises me at times, in the best possible way. Yet one more occasion to make me think; how clever. There is a brief distortion of sound at one point, but is quickly fixed to make it barely noticeable.
Doris Humphrey said all dances are too long, and on the whole, I’d agree, but if she was watching Birds, she’d have to recant, and despite slight discomfiture at the not quite nudity in the birdbath there is not a Tui or any other ornithological moment to be missed.
Birdwatching is boring. Yeah right.
The Birds of Paradise Highlights show is terrifically clever, wonderfully funny, and quite seriously, better than its own blurb. It really is brilliant, so this is my tweet: don’t even THINK about not going if you want a great evening out. If not tonight, then go to the next (oh please!) season. Oh, and wear a fascinator, it will be worth your while.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer