Written by Laura Lomas
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
New writing is of great importance to Birmingham Repertory Theatre, its showcases undoubtedly a good thing for new work and writers. Bird, a monologue written by Laura Lomas, is the latest such work to be displayed.
We meet 14 year old Leah Bird. who is waiting for her boyfriend to call, and in time reveals the true un-fairytale like nature of her relationship. An exploration of the life of a teenager in contemporary Britain, this work features topics such as child sexual exploitation.
The play is well crafted, it is a sophisticated look into a character you could well find in any school around the country; the insight into Leah’s feelings, and how she copes with certain scenarios rings true. However the performance seems to fizzle out and end abruptly, leaving you feeling somewhat underwhelmed; you are left with the feeling that there is certainly more to explore in the material and events of the play.
The set, by Joanna Scotcher, is cleverly designed, consisting primarily of old mattresses, giving the feel of a grubby flat in which the action takes place. Curtains drape to the left, however the right side is left bare, leaving some of the “magic of the theatre” (plug sockets) on display; it can be a bit off-putting. Prema Mehta’s lighting is highly effective though. The use of U.V lights is to great effect, showing up hand-prints on the mattresses, to represent that effect of drugs on Leah.
Amaka Okafor gives a touching performance as Leah. Initially seeming a little too animated by physical gestures and the like, but as she settles the naivety and the vulnerability of the character comes through and is piercing. Holding the audience’s attention in a one person show is always a difficult task – and the pace does drop slightly at times – but throughout she manages an assured performance showing a rooted understanding of the character and her motives.
This work is good, by no means spectacular, leaving you curious for more; but one feels that this feeling is primarily because more could, and possibly should, have been explored to leave us truly satisfied.