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Bird review at Sherman Cymru, Cardiff – ‘uncompromising in its fury’

Bird at Sherman Cymru, Cardiff. Photo: Farrows Creative

Like the acclaimed Iphigenia in Splott, the last play directed by Rachel O’Riordan at the Sherman, Katherine Chandler’s Bird focuses on the lives of Wales’ poorest and marginalised.

Ava (Georgia Henshaw) and Tash (Rosie Sheehy) are roommates in a care home. As Ava’s 16th birthday approaches she is confronted with questions over her future. She yearns to return to her mother, Claire (Siwan Morris), but is refused.

The link between Ava and birds is repeatedly revisited, yet despite her minute physicality the character is far more solid and earthbound than the symbolism suggests. Henshaw catapults between crumbling, desperate childishness and vast, screaming anger. Grasping the neck of a vodka bottle with the sticky-fingered grip of a kid with a Coca-Cola, she is both older and younger than her 16 years.

Connor Allen plays their teenage friend Dan as something of a gentle giant. He is the one to finally reduce Ava to tears with the words, “I like you”. Guy Rhys as Lee, the older man who provides Ava and Tash with alcohol, has the ability to make one well-timed lick of his thumb uniquely disturbing.

Kenny Miller’s set is reminiscent of the interior of a public loo on a despondent seafront.  It evokes the reality of many coastal towns, full of grimy tiles and slimy men rather than ice cream and donkeys.

Uncompromising in its fury, Chandler’s work is comparable to Gary Owen’s in showing one individual raging against a hard and uncaring world.

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Verdict
Intense and powerful production of a play that refuses to look away
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