After a successful run in 2016, Birds of Paradise Theatre Company has returned to the city for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. Written and directed by Robert Softley Gale, the piece is performed by four men with cerebral palsy.
A pool of light falls on to each performer as they begin to move to the rhythmic sounds by Scott Twynholm and Jill O’ Sullivan. As their hands draw through the space, their bodies jostle and twist with stark, staccato movement.
The piece is a river of touching and thought-provoking stories that explore how the condition has affected their lives, their masculinity and their bodies.
Memories are shared as they bring to the surface past encounters such as asking a girl out on a date in front of a group of hysterical, giggling friends. Or the embarrassment of asking for help being fed.
The frustration of being treated differently is at the heart of the show. It is a call for respect – they do not want to be patronised, just spoken to like anyone else.
Sharp humour and glimmers of hope weave through the piece as they start to poke fun at their own disability. Have we not all experienced those moments when we cannot remember someone’s name and you have to introduce them to a friend? According to performer Laurence Clark, a speech impairment becomes a “life saver” in this situation.
The piece as a whole acts as an extraordinary testament to each performer’s story