08/09/2022 - 10/09/2022
Creative Director: Roger Sanders
Performer & Mask Maker: Bridget Sanders
Mask Director & Mentor: Beth Twentyman
Presented by Birdlife Productions
Using the enduring delights of Mask and Puppetry, Effy is a poignant, nonverbal work in development that portrays the human condition with its many imperfections and the yearning to belong.
Whilst quietly carrying out her job in the park, surrounded by bustling commuters, mums with prams, joggers and intimidating waterfowl, Effy secretly believes Maria from the Sound of Music is her guiding light, and she can’t help wondering; My heart should be wildly rejoicing. Oh, what’s the matter with me?
It is common in our society to feel alienated, separate and disconnected from others, and even more common to believe we are the only one who feels this way. Effy bravely unpacks her own sense of alienation, taking it to absurd levels, as discomfort spills over into playfulness, terror into ecstasy, grief into joy.
This is a Work in Development, meaning the creative team has had a short development rehearsal process and is sharing explorations and possibilities of a brand new play text, commissioned by TAHI Festival. This is a chance to see an exciting and evolving work in development, in a modest form.
“As always, we are not disappointed with birdlife productions – just left wanting more, please!!” The Boy with Wings, Nelson Fringe Festival, Nikkie Karki, Theatreview, 2020
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A celebration of solo artists, TAHI is a ten-day Festival from 8-17 September dedicated to showcasing the finest and most engaging solo performances from all around Aotearoa. With events across Pōneke in 2022, check out our website for all the details and to book.
Performer: Bridget Sanders
Mask Director & Mentor: Beth Twentyman
Creative & Musical Director: Roger Sanders
Outside Eye: Jenny Rowan McArthur
Mask and Puppet Makers: Bridget and Roger Sanders
Puppetry , Solo , Theatre , Mask ,
Delightful, revealing, funny, heartbreaking
Review by Cordy Black 09th Sep 2022
Bridget Sanders, under the tutelage of Mask Director Beth Twentyman and with Director Roger Sanders, brings Birdlife’s signature style back to BATS with this new work in development. A public park is our only setting, sketched out with a few helpful props and furnishings. In the hands of a profoundly lonely person, other people’s trash becomes a vehicle for expression, whimsy, terror and potentially even a kind of companionship.
Clowning, Puppetry and Mask all have their ways of liberating a performer. It’s great to see a mix of what all three mediums have to offer in one little show. The puppetry is a mainstay of Birdlife shows, but here it is done very selectively. One human body is our real star.
Bridget Sanders has crafted a wickedly clever face for Effy, one that responds well under lighting and endows her with glumness or curiosity depending on clever angles and well-placed body language. Discovering more of Effy is quietly fascinating. She is wearing a shell – not her mask – that’s perfectly expressive. Instead, the more we see her play and the more her character shines through her drab work attire, her ill-fitting boots and her demeaning occupation, we realise that Effy is totally out of step with her mundane setting.
The soundtrack eases in with tidbits of Chopin at moments of emotion, along with a few pops of colour to signal Effy’s flights of fancy. These musical interludes take on a fable-like quality, sometimes poignant or painful to watch, other times delightful or ridiculous. At first the music seems like an odd choice, but it’s clear that Effy is secretly quite the Romantic, so maybe this music has a special meaning for her.
Stormy piano played over a dramatic scene of a battle with a feisty rubbish bag or malevolent waterfowl, voiced by Roger Sanders, is perfect absurdity. Her clowning fugues reflect Effy’s disconnection from objective reality and her earnest emotional intensity.
My absolute favourite moments are when the audience is able to piece together Effy’s inner logic from the clues in the trash around her. We can follow her as she gleans the inspiration for a makeover or makes a decision to try something new. Good clowning is all about that shared journey and emotional experience. One loop of cause and effect is delightful, then revealing, then sweetly funny and then genuinely heartbreaking.
I want to see just a little more in this show, perhaps with one more thread or with a little more play in the timings. Or I want to see the same show in a different setting, with another audience, to see whether comic or tragic beats will land differently. Effy is a great character and there’s so much Bridget can do with her. Hopefully Wellington will see some more of her soon.
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Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer