A year on and Birdman still holds its appeal

2012-09-24 00:00

IT’S been nearly a year since I first saw Marc Kay’s Birdman at the I Love Durban Festival. I thought then that his story of 19th century conman, Augustus St John Merryweather, who’s determined to part investors in aviation from their cash, was a great new work.

In the single hander, performed by Adam Dore, Augustus reveals that he’s spent time in prison for fraud, that his mother was a prostitute and that he has raised his young sister, Rebecca, single-handedly. Now he wants to fleece people by making them believe he’s building a powered glider and then to leave Boston for the bright lights of New York.

Rebecca, however, is no longer happy with her brother’s choice of life and runs off to marry a preacher. Her desertion is a catalyst for change and Augustus becomes determined to prove to her that he can actually build an aircraft.

Kay has made a few changes to his script and added a new voiceover, improving what was a good story - but what makes Birdman absorbing to watch is Dore’s performance, which has become deeper and more layered. He is by turns a slick salesman peddling potions to the gullible, an awkward big brother trying to give his sister the facts of life, and a man filled with anger and pain at her decision to leave him and his way of life.

A year ago I said this new play should be seen by as many people as possible. I stand by that statement. If you get the chance see it.

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