fringe: the cagebirds

the cagebirdsYou never quite know what you're going to get with a student production... and I think that's what The Cagebirds was (although two of the young actors had rather impressive beards, so I'm not exactly sure how old they all were).

Fortunately though, with a couple of minor exceptions, this was a fairly strong production overall. I think this was aided by the fact that this was the final performance of an admittedly short run, but I think everybody was in their groove.

As the program said, the whole production was very heavily visually inspired by Tim Burton... both the set and costumes were a sea of black and white which gave the whole thing a very stylish feel.

And again, the use of actors already being in position when the audience entered was well utilised here... although the line between their "pre-play" antics and the official start of the play was a little soft.

It also worked perfectly with the play's set-up... that the six characters are the "cagebirds" of the title (although they're all played as people)... this is their world and they're just there.

Thinking about it now, there is a touch of the mental asylum about it all... the six cagebirds could easily fit into that kind of setting.

Of the six, there were three standouts for me... David Grant as The Twitting... a ball of unsure, twitchy and broken energy. Georgina Weinert as The Guzzle... slightly ditzy and obsessed with food. And Patrick Martin as The Gloom... a sneezing, obsessive, hypochondriacal mess.

In fact Martin steals many of the scenes... with his little wimper and shaking hands, he managed to pull the audiences attention even when other things were going on around him.

The other two roles are The Mistress (the keeper of the cagebirds) and The Wild One (a new "bird" brought in from the wild)... and if the show had a weak point, then unfortunately they're it.

In truth, Bec Troisi in the role of the Mistress is the weakest performance of the bunch. She seems more subservient to her collection of creatures than in control of it, and her limited scenes didn't feel particularly strong, more like another lost bird.

Georgina Weinert as The Wild One had some good moments, but her performance went too far to the hysterical and made some of her dialogue hard to understand/hear.

Her role may also have been slightly hampered by the script itself, as she's supposed to be the one that the audience connects with, but I felt a little like the rest of the cagebirds... that she was just out of place on top of being loud and somewhat shrill.

I was a little surprised by the end of the play, and also surprised that the resolution didn't go further than it did.

All in all it was a solid performance of an interesting (if slightly odd) play... and possibly a play I wouldn't mind seeing again interpreted by a different troup of actors.

Oh and Mr Thump (aka Henry Sawbridge), don't ever put a hat on in anything ever again! Your hair is far too awesomesauce!

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