Bird, Studio, Derby Theatre

birroo4Bird is a beautiful and intimate piece of drama about fourteen-year-old Leah Bird who is alone in a Derby flat waiting for her boyfriend to call. However we quickly learned that all was not as it seemed.

The tremendously talented Amaka Okafor was the only person on the stage at Derby’s Studio Theatre and we learnt about the other characters and Leah’s relationships with them through the monologue written by one of the country’s most exciting young writers Laura Lomas.

By breaking the fourth wall Leah told us her life story steadily – developing a relationship with us so that we all felt huge amounts of empathy for her.

The sensitive subject of child exploitation was handled extremely well in a poignant and accessible manner that left the audience thinking.

The most fantastic element of the play was that a lot of it was left unsaid. Things were insinuated and hinted at, but much was left to our imagination. It helped to tell the full story without taking anything away from the character.

The very effective set was a mountain of mattresses and duvets framed by lace curtains. Typical teenage mess – clothes and takeaway boxes – cluttered the floor.

Lighting and sound was put to great use especially during a party scene where at first we were laughing as Leah danced around the stage, but as noises began merging with the music, getting louder and louder, we quickly stopped feeling Leah’s panic at the sudden change of emotions.

Another great use of the lighting was when Leah noticed the flashing blue police lights outside. Nothing was said about it but the way she behaved was enough for the audience to understand that she was afraid of them.

The character of Leah Bird was brilliantly created. Throughout the performance, there were some beautiful references to birds, highlighting the idea that Leah wanted and needed the freedom that she wasn’t getting. There was a fantastic moment when she found a feather in her mouth.

Bird showcased funny, sad and sometimes scary moments, creating an emotional and insightful experience.

The play was a collaboration between Root Theatre and Ros Terry for Echo and was directed by Jane Fallowfield.

You can find more tour dates here.

Review by Bilborough College student Bethany Morledge, 17, of Ilkeston