THIRSTY To 2 April.


devised by The Paper Birds.

Tour to 2 April 2012.
Runs 1hr No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 8 February at mac Birmingham.

Pint-sized piece of the affluence on incohol.

One day after I saw Spymonkey’s Oedipussy at Northampton, The Paper Birds flew into view at Birmingham’s mac with Thirsty. Like Spymonkey, it reflects Cindy Oswin’s point that fringe work uses, rather than concealing, the performer’s identity. Thirsty wouldn’t be the same – or anything like – without these particular performers.

They call it ‘verbatim’, because all the words are claimed from information supplied from life, principally the riotousness of nights out with friends and alcohol, incorporated in physically skilful performances from Jemma McDonnell and Kylie Walsh. Alliteratively called ‘Juicy’ ad ‘Kinky’ on their respective backs, they start with the loud upfrontery of laddettes as midnight recedes, with sense left far behind.

It’s behaviour that nowadays is anything from a giggle through embarrassing to job-threatening on facebook or YouTube, but that’s not the concern here. Sober thoughts intervene as they start attempt to assure the flirted–with audience Juicy and Kinky aren’t really like that.

What these two are like, in performance terms, becomes part of the show. They invited people’s experiences of life on the tiles by postcard, blog or ‘phone (a cheap ‘phone, making most responses indecipherable). Having come up with lots of material, some went back on the tiles of Fiametta Horvat’s design, its trio of graffiti-strewn toilet-cubicles fortunately not presaging a sub-Willy Russell Stags and Hens comedy.

There are all sorts of stories they want to tell, and their own experiences over a decade of friendship keep intruding. There is humour and anecdote – few people are likely to tap-in lengthy accounts of alcohol-related disease. But, against their will one story keeps asserting itself in the performance, as evidently it did during the show’s development.

It’s the story of a young woman getting legless on a late-night binge. With friends, but not necessarily through the night. The possibilities of how the evening will end becomes the anchor of this skilfully performed show.

While the Paper Birds probably wouldn’t trust a man in a minicab to get them home, one of their cubicles contains Shane Durrant, with keyboard, whose sometimes surprisingly gentle score helps bind the scenes into a whole.

Performers: Jemma McDonnell, Kylie Walsh.
Pianist: Shane Durrant.

Co-directors: Jemma McDonnell, Kirsty Housley.
Designer: Fiammetta Horvat.
Lighting: Vince Field.
Sound: Benji Fox.
Composer: Shane Durrant.

2012-02-17 00:45:12

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