Kill your darlings

There should be a cautionary tale for theatre groups planning a journey to the Fringe wonderland. Perhaps, a company distracted by the siren call of friends’ praise finds their show needlessly smashed against the rocks of mediocrity. Somewhat maddeningly, The Red Bird and Death, aiming to be an hour of dark stories, runs aground despite visual appeal and a novel concept, mostly due to not having a dissenting editorial voice.

The Red Bird and Death
The Red Bird and Death

It is unfortunate that the positive aspects of this show were outweighed by the negatives. Roslyn Quin gave a nervous performance on the review night, with a halting and awkward delivery, which should even out as the season continues.

Performance limitations wouldn’t have mattered as much if the stories themselves were more focussed.  At times inconsistency of details within a story or an excessive amount of descriptive language that didn’t advance the drama or action slackened the tension. While some stories had moments that were suitably grotesque for the genre, these didn’t build to anything near spine chilling. One story with a conclusion that that amounted to “If you want to know how the curse affected the Lampton family you can look it up for yourself” was an inexplicable surrender of the storyteller’s power, leaving the audience in an information vacuum and unable to react.  And what does the show’s title mean? Although Death makes a cameo appearance, I don’t know what the Red Bird is.

The production certainly had some appealing ingredients. I particularly enjoyed the den-like detail of the set and its surprising interactive features. The different forms of puppetry had some cute or comically grizzly moments and were quite well done, and the live music lent an appropriate atmosphere to the fables.

Many enduring stories relate mistakes and growth as they ultimately overcome adversity. Should this company block its ears to the sirens and pay more attention to developing a script, I am confident that they will better navigate subsequent voyages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *