A short story by Daphne Du Maurier.
A play written by Conor McPherson.
A film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock.
Spark Production Company is off to an amazing start setting the bar with their never before seen performance of The Birds.
Arriving at Irene’s Warehouse on the final night of The Birds, automatically the stage was set as audience members had to journey down the side of the warehouse, enter the cold guttered-out space through dim lighting, and immerse ourselves amongst the stage which was designed to resemble a dilapidated doom’s-day apocolyptic style living room and kitchen. So immersed was this reviewer and his plus one that we actually sat on the set without realising until being kindly notified and ushered to other seats.
The play – The Birds – which fits the genre of horror, is set in the not too distant future and follows two strangers (Angelique Malcolm and Sam MacDonald) who are trapped in an abandoned farmhouse trying to survive wave after wave of attacks from the birds, as well as gripping to their slipping sanity. To shake things up a young woman arrives (Jaz Wickson) increasing paranoia, affecting supplies, and heightening the secretive game of survival of the fittest that absorbs them all.
David Ward’s eery direction was on point as he pushed the boundaries of exploring the human race’s capabilities when tested in desperate times of survival. His clear character themes were the parallel’s of human connection and disconnection which he clearly ensured the cast delivered to the nervous audience.
The cast all did incredibly well with the material they were given, and all had their moments. The actors went above and beyond the script which was enthralling to see as the dialogue could be a tad clunky at times. That’s not the actors fault – just purely working with what they had. They all maintained a good energy and were incredibly believable for such a dark storyline.
Malcolm’s character Dianne showed an immense amount of depth through a believable performance of a downward spiral into insanity. Macdonald portrayed the character Nat in a solid, consistent performance that left the audience on edge never quite sure when he would snap next. Wickson’s character Julia was truly eery from start to finish proving that this actress was at her highest in the more emotionally charged scenes. All three leads explored the dynamics of the script (through dedicated direction) and had brilliant chemistry on stage.
Technically the show was incredibly sharp through exceptional sound design recreating chilling bird sound effects. The lighting design which was minimalistic and at times managed by the cast was so effective through the use of lamps and candles which left you clinging to the individual next to you. The special effects – what can I say, other than I was the individual that was seated next to a window that a mock bird burst through, and was then attacked with a hammer by screaming cast members. In short, this reviewer – fearing for his life that more birds would fly through that window – now understands why actress Tippi Hedren screamed so much throughout the Hollywood adaption. Staging, sets and costume designs were all minimalistic but effective giving the true apocalyptic environment and wouldn’t have worked in a regular theatre. The art of immersion was achieved. The technical aspects only enhanced the performance, but didn’t overwhelm it.
Overall the show was incredibly contemporary and a very ambitious choice for a new company as it’s never been performed in Australia before, but they pulled it off. This reviewer thoroughly looks forward to Spark’s next production.
As actress Tippi Hedren once said “I can look at myself in the mirror, and I can be proud”. Well done.
Performance: 4 stars
Direction: 4 stars
Stage Management: 4 stars
Sound: 5 stars
Lighting: 5 stars
Sets: 5 stars
Costumes: 4 stars
Overall rating: 4.5stars