Circumstance and Emotions by joel fishbane @joelfishbane
Sombre and serious right from the start, Birdy, written and performed by Karie Richards, is a one-woman show that dives headfirst into intimate territory as it crafts a portrait of a girl, her father and the issue of mental illness that at once divides and unites them. It’s a deadly earnest script which is given an equally earnest performance. This isn’t always to the script’s benefit; while intense and emotional, the show at times teeters on the edge of self-indulgence which threatens to detract from its impact.
Super-minimalistic, Birdy has only a handful of light cues and half a dozen sound effects (the latter aren’t really needed; there’s so few of them, they only end up distracting when they finally appear). The focus is on Richards who skilfully guides us though an enigmatic text that toys with our perception of reality. Moving fluidly between past and present, the play may very well be a dream or at least something happening only in the mind of its heroine.
There isn’t much of a plot – this is a story about emotions and circumstance – and this sometimes makes it hard to follow Birdy’s train of thought. To be fair, this may be Richards’ intent, but it’s also what makes this show as frustrating as it is engaging. Continued development may allow Richards to explore ways to make the show more accessible so that her sharp and vivid prose gains even more power than it already has.