Talking about a revolution, it was once said, sounds like a whisper. There’s definitely, however, an audible buzz throughout Birdy, Jane Madden and Ross Gaynor’s vibrant new play for young audiences produced by Eccles Theatre Group. In a world where a depressing regime has outlawed music, the people have begun jamming in secret.
Birdy, a promising producer, is first spotted in her hideout, admitting musicians who speak a secret password. In comes Electric Eddy (James Murphy), a Californian rocker for whom everything is ‘dude’. If nothing else, this part of the play provides a fun schooling in musical genres. As Birdy (the charming Ciara Ivie) goes in search of a mythical opera singer, the individuals she encounters each embody a different sound. The Techno Tortoise (Finbarr Doyle) cuts shapes in perfect imitation of Dublin’s clubbers and the Jazz Fusion Fox (Roseanna Purcell) speaks in low-toned slang. (“You can’t explain jazz, cream slice”).
Impressively, Dylan Tonge Jones’s live guitar adapts to all theses styles, nudging the action as it flows under Davey Kelleher’s neat direction. There’s a nice gleam of modern design to Nicola Zeidler and Robert Nolan’s forest set, with Mary Sheehan’s sophisticated costumes popping with primary colours.
These inviting inventions aside, the play hasn’t quite hooked its message of self-realisation as Birdy, turned down by the opera singer, has to lead the revolution herself. Nor does a solution for taking on the establishment turn out to be anything but convenient. But that doesn’t suppress the gentle hum of this rebel’s song.
Birdy is on at the Abbey Theatre until 23 September 2017. Click here for more details.