fringe: three birds one cock

adelaide fringe: three birds one cock
"Three of Alfred Hitchcock's iconic blondes come together to take revenge on their master puppeteer."

I've always been a big fan of director Alfred Hitchcock, so Three Birds One Cock was a no-brainer. Except that the blurb above doesn't exactly match up with the show I saw.

It wasn't so much "taking revenge" as it was three women being manipulated by forces (presumably Hitchcock, although that was limited to a brief audio clip at the beginning, and his famous silhouette along with another clip at the end) outside of their control.

They loop pieces of dialogue, they shudder and shake, they're possessed with lines of dialogue from Hitchcock moves outside of the three the characters come from. And they don't escape the fates predestined for them from their respective stories.

I really thought that I knew Hitchcock's movies, and while I did get the majority of the references, there were more than a few that I had no idea what movies they came from (or even if they were from specific movies at all... I feel like there was a sequence that came straight out of a 1950's guide to being a good wife).

From left to right in the image above, Anna Rodway is Melanie Daniels from The Birds, Candace Miles is Madeline Elster/Judy Barton from Vertigo and Madelaine Nunn is Marion Crane from Psycho... and these heroines/victims from three of Hitchcock's most famous movies are plucked from their respective stories and find themselves trapped in an all white hotel room with a dead body.

Each woman has an opportunity to play out her character's story, albeit the abridged version or just a single sequence, and each came across in a slightly different style... personally I think that Rodway's piece was the strongest, being Daniels' final scene in the movie... although Miles and Nunn both do great work in their respective scenes. Miles captures the dreaminess of Elster/Barton and Nunn gives us the matter-of-factness of Crane's journey to the Bates Motel.

The scenes where the three woman are interacting can best be described as "scenery chewing"... not in a bad way, but they do ramp up both the comedy and the crazy to about 11 in those scenes, Nunn and Miles especially. In fact I have a hard time picking a favourite of the three as they're all so good in different ways at various points in the show.

The point where I felt the wheels kind of fell off was when the women stripped down to their 1950's style underwear and did a music number which weird and a little out of place next to the rest of the show. They also slather fake blood on themselves at one point, so be careful if you happen to sit in the front row, I happened to get caught in the cast-off, only a single drop, but still.

While the lighting design is generally excellent, taking inspiration from the famous "green light" scene in Vertigo at certain points, there were also times where it felt like a couple of the cues were slightly delayed, or in the case of Rodway's monologue, seemed entirely too dark at first (it makes sense as the scene progresses, but starting so we could actually see Rodway and turning the lights down slowly as the scene progresses would make more sense). And there was an issue with one of the prop guns falling apart that caused all three performers to break character slightly with laughter at one point (granted the gun started out broken, so it's not really surprising that it fell apart completely).

The costume and set designs, while clearly not lavish, were fantastic, the sparse white hotel room was made up of weird, tilted angles and a few pieces of 1950's style furniture, and both Miles and Rodway were instantly recognisable as their characters (also some nice work on the reproduction of the famous Vertigo/Carlotta pendant). Nunn wasn't, but I think that has more to do with the fact that I've seen Psycho far less often than the other two movies... plus it being shot in black and white and Crane's most famous scene being naked rather than in a specific outfit (a quick Google search proved that her outfit is just as accurate as the other two).

It's an enjoyable show for Hitchcock fans, I just wish it had ended differently.

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