Generally speaking, there is usually something about one-hour, one-act, single performer shows that doesn’t quite make it a resounding success. Too much may be thrown into the show in terms of plot and/or dialogue, so the piece feels rushed and there is insufficient character development in the breakneck pace of the play. Or otherwise, the show is underdeveloped and feels like some extra bits, like a musical number or several, have been added in to pad the show out. The show may start well but the level of interest isn’t sustained, or the show may be so trimmed down to an hour’s running time that it loses coherency, without sufficient time given to introducing the story. None of those things are an issue in Where Do Little Birds Go?.
Lucy Fuller (Jessica Butcher) is at once a warm and likeable character. Butcher immediately establishes an excellent rapport with the audience, direct eye contact included, and somehow this is never uncomfortable with anyone, as far as I could deduce. Her delivery is steady and crystal clear, with only a few lines hard to decipher, though this is totally commensurate with the atmosphere the show creates at this point. Nightclubs are noisy, and it would have been downright unrealistic if we did hear with absolute precision who said what to whom.
Neither rushed nor hurried, the play depicts both the optimistic ambition of a young lady and the harrowing reality of the vulnerable situation she finds herself in, through no fault of her own, other than what some like to describe as ‘being in the wrong place at the wrong time’ – a concept I have always struggled to fully get my head around. While a larger scale production might want to portray violence with copious amounts of fake blood and a lot of screaming and shouting, the infinitely subtler approach deployed here is just as powerful, if not more so in its inventiveness.
And yet, there are plenty of moments of humour too, which, far from making the piece seem goofy or inappropriately making light of a palpably dangerous state of affairs, enhances the play, and stops it being what would otherwise be an almost relentlessly depressing production. Camilla Whitehill’s script is strong, engaging and coherent – it was always plainly apparent what was going on.
While the audience only hears one perspective, that of Lucy Fuller, it’s an important one, and it’s the sort of perspective that still doesn’t get as much of an airing as it ought to. Fuller’s story is told so beautifully, with the razzmatazz of the criminal underworld cleverly underplayed to put the victim in the spotlight instead. Butcher’s excellent singing vocal is heard at various points during the play, with even a touch of actor-musicianship, an added bonus. The whole thing provides much food for thought. This is a tour de force performance from Jessica Butcher in a thoroughly fascinating play.
Review by Chris Omaweng
WHERE DO LITTLE BIRDS GO?
BY CAMILLA WHITEHILL
Longsight Theatre presents award-winning Edinburgh Festival sell-out smash hit, Where Do Little Birds Go?
It’s 1966. Lucy Fuller is 18 years old and working at Winston’s Nightclub. One night, Lucy is kidnapped by the Kray Twins and locked in a flat with an escaped murderer. This is the story of Lucy’s time with Ronnie, Reggie, and Frank.
A razor-sharp exploration of sexual exploitation and class, Where Do Little Birds Go? takes us back over 40 years to a time when fashion, music, celebrity and corruption shaped young women’s coming of age and East London, under the powerful grip of the Kray Twins, was famous for its ‘wall of silence’.
Where Do Little Birds Go? is the award-winning debut play from Channel 4 and Bush Theatre writer, Camilla Whitehill.
1st – 26th November 2016
Tuesday – Saturday at 8pm
Saturday & Sunday Matinees at 3.30pm