Another sisterly guest post
“Nobody is famous at home, right?”
By Simon Stephens
Directed by Carrie Cracknell
Cast: Nikki Amuka-Bird, Daniel Cerqueira, Yolanda Kettle, Alex Price, Charlotte Randle, Andrew Scott
Synopsis: The last week of a massive international tour and rock star Paul, is at the height of his fame. Everybody knows his name. Whatever he wants he can have. He can screw anybody he wants to. He can buy anything he desires. He can eat anything. Drink anything. Smoke anything. Go anywhere. As the inevitability of the end of the road looms closer, and a return home becomes a reality, for Paul, the music is starting to jar.
Royal Court Theatre, Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Thursday 29th May, 2014
I was very excited to see that this play was still on at the time I was scheduled to be in London, not only because of the lead Andrew Scott, whom I admire greatly, but also because the Royal Court Theatre has such a rich history, being the theatre where the idea of a National Theatre Company was effectively born by Sir Laurence Olivier et all before finding a temporary first home at the Old Vic. As luck would have it my seat was directly behind the ones dedicated to Sir Laurence and his wife Joan Plowright. But I digress. Sorry about the nerd-out.
Having recently seen a screening of The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nighttime – also written by Simon Stephens – I was expecting something extraordinary, and that is exactly what I got. The writing is very witty, with funny bits and dramatic, moving scenes alike. The set design is very sparse, with swivelling plastic chairs, a shifting archway, and what amazed me the most (caution: spoilers!) a moat around three sides of the stage that fills with murky water in the course of the second part of the play, flooding the front part of the stage as well towards the end. The water creeps up at you as disaster creeps up at Paul.
Birdland is a captivating play from start to finish. It starts off with the lead character Paul, played by the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful (did I mention he’s wonderful? Because he is.) Andrew Scott, turning around and looking right at each and everyone in the audience. And he’s taking his sweet time about it, which inevitably made some people start to squirm in their seats or giggle nervously.
Andrew Scott (the wonderful one) portrays the tormented rock star on the verge of a breakdown with mesmerising intensity. Throughout the play Paul’s world slowly starts to crumble, with Paul alienating everyone around him and in the end not only losing the trust and friendship of his best mate, but essentially risking and losing everything he worked for. Scott is as cocky and arrogant at the start as he is vulnerable and bewildered by his fate towards the end, with a wonderful range of contradicting emotions and actions in between. The scene where an awkward Paul meets his father backstage at his London show is especially moving, showing the boy inside the flamboyant rock star. I also loved Nikki Amuka-Bird’s performance as a hotel employee turned short-time touring companion, and Daniel Cerqueira as the manager and Paul’s father respectively. The acting of the other members of the cast, playing various characters throughout the play, is also solid. Oh, I almost forgot: Andrew Scott was wonderful.
Watch the official trailer: