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The Search for a Black-Browed Albatross review at Pleasance, Edinburgh – ‘moving show about love and loss’

Samantha Miles in The Search for a Black-Browed Albatross at Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh. Photo: Giulia Delprato

Shows don’t come much sweeter than this. The Backpack Ensemble – an emerging company hailing from the University of Lincoln – heaves its debut show The Search for a Black-Browed Albatross up to Edinburgh, having already made acclaimed visits to the National Student Drama Festival and Incoming Festival this year.

Samantha Miles’ play follows Charlie on a trip north into the middle of nowhere in search of a rare bird – the only bird that her enthusiastic twitcher dad didn’t tick off his “life list” before he died. She loses herself in a forest, almost drowns in a river, meets a wise woodsman and ultimately faces up to her own grief. It’s a tale as telegraphed as it is touching.

The real joy here, though, is in the exuberant, meta-theatrical invention of Simon Panayi’s production. The seven cast members pass the narration between them as they use bedsheets, projectors and silhouettes to evoke a world filled with wonder and wistful memory. Every so often, they break into nicely harmonised song to the backing of Jordan Shiel’s plaintive piano-playing.

It’s a gentle, tear-jerker of a show about life and loss, holding on and letting go. A really promising show, from a really promising company. Look out for it.


Moving, inventive show about love, loss and letting go from a promising young company

Production Information

The Search for a Black-Browed Albatross
Pleasance Dome
August 1, 2018
August 9, 2018
Samantha Miles
Simon Panayi
Musical director
Jordan Shiel
Cast includes
James Ashfield, Samantha Miles, Simon Panayi, Laura Potente, Elliot Sargent, Jordan Shiel
James Ashfield, the Backpack Ensemble
Running time