First published in 1952, Daphne Du Maurier’s novelette is probably best known as a film directed in 1963 by Alfred Hitchcock. It has been adapted several times for radio and in 2009 Irish Playwright Conor McPherson adapted it for the stage. First performed at Dublin’s Gate Theatre it saw a two hour long play. At the Lounge The Birds is considerably condensed to a mere 80 minutes. Directed by Adam Morley and starring Emma Taylor, Alice Marshall and British former Boxing Champion Glenn McCrory in his stage debut.
The play takes, as does the film, the basic story line of the novelette and focuses on the three characters over a course of time. Nat (McCrory) wakes up after in the house of the then to him unknown Diane (Taylor) after three days having rested on her floor and haunted by nightmares, the realisation dawns on him that the nightmares are merely dreams in comparison to what is happening outside the house. The world is being conquered by birds – who probably due to climate change – start attacking everything that comes their way. Wondering if there are other survivors or wonder what is going on, a knock is heard on the door and Diane is forced to welcome the young Julia (Marshall) in to her house. As the saying goes ‘Three’s a Crowd’, anxiety forced intimacy and jealousy are becoming apparent plus the instinct of survival becomes stronger among our three characters as they have to risk their lives by getting out to get food.
McPherson’s play works very hard on the psyche of not only on the characters but also on his audience. So much so in fact that a lot of questions are unanswered. Maybe they were answered in the original two hour run. But it left me somewhat feeling empty. Also I am sad to say, that this is a very complex play from an actor’s point of view. As brave as Glenn McCrory is to tackle this character for a first time on a professional stage, he doesn’t succeed quite as he should. Which sadly brings the entire cast down. Emma Taylor, having played in Sartre’s No Exit, is no stranger to a play with such intensity and her performances when alone are the strongest. Especially her conversation to the neighbour. Yes there is an unseen 4th character, that’s all I’m saying, one doesn’t want to give too much away. It could have been more grasping. The Lounge is a small intimate venue and there was so much space for tension, but I guess Adam Morley played it safe. It reminded me a lot of Night of the Living Dead which was loosely based on another survival novel I Am Legend. So if you are a fan of The Walking Dead, like I am, you will find this play more than satisfying. But please understand, these are birds, not zombies… which is more frightening?
Review by Danny Reyntiens
This atmospheric post apocalyptic chiller is set in a world where society has collapsed and the birds, for reasons unknown, attack humans at every given opportunity. Three strangers with dark pasts and many secrets, find themselves thrown together trying to survive this harsh new world… Hiding in a boarded up house where danger comes from the skies above and also from within.
Directed by Adam Morley
Cast: Glenn McCrory (Nat), Emma Taylor (Diane), Alice Marshall (Julia)
Leicester Square Theatre
6 Leicester Place
London, WC2H 7BX
24 September 2015 to 17th October 2015
Box Office: 02077342222
Saturday 26th September 2015