Two Little Dickie Birds, Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

You know those people who never stop talking, ever? The sort that will strike up a conversation with people at bus stops, in the supermarket or talk to themselves constantly? They thrive in customer service. They make brilliant pub landladies. They’re comforting if they’re your granddad. But as a solo performance character who encounters soap opera-esque levels of misfortune and has a story told through a terribly structured, stereotypical script? Being in their continuously monologuing presence for ninety minutes is excruciating.

Every second of Pauline’s journey of self-discovery from her pub in Oldham to Brazil in Two Little Dickie Birds is fraught with either ridiculous catastrophe or mundane daily life. The sappy, middle-aged blonde who is an everywoman completely lacks unique personality. She perpetually narrates the most minor of details as if the audience were mentally incapacitated and unable to work out any conclusions themselves. Dodgy dates, pub regulars, a fire, the death of a loved one and fights with technology are a mix of boring and absurd topics she covers. Imagine the most boring episode of Eastenders or Coronation Street performed by one person and you’ll be close to this play and its execution.

The script is a monotonous drip feed of linear information with no sense of pace or emphasis of key moments. She speaks to invisible characters, yet directly to the audience who are outside of her immediate reality. The three writers, David Allen, Jonathan Clay and Mandy Hester, seem to have no understanding of how solo performances are meant to work, and the fact that not one but THREE writers thought this script was fit to put in front of an audience is most worrying. The style and structure they employ is more suitable to children’s storytelling – it has no literary finesse, surprise, suspense or humour – despite being marketed as a comedy. The similarly advertised poignancy means a happy ending, but with a lack of empathy. This is the sort of material more appropriate to am dram than professional stages.

Performed in a consistent, even tone with no variation and with a voice that could strip wallpaper (also unvarying), the actor also appears to lack clear direction. Jeffrey Longmore seems to have no sense of a narrative arc, character journey or how to add light and shade to her delivery. Extraordinarily long pauses between scenes also show an incapability of handling transitions, as these last well beyond moving set and props around. There is also the bafflingly costumed stagehand who occasionally interacts with the audience, but not with Pauline.

Dave Benson’s set redeems the production somewhat. It’s detailed, grounded in reality and offers visual variation that the other production elements lack. Projections augment physical build, but these are unnecessary and some occasional CGI animation is downright awful.

Two Little Dickie Birds could snapshot Northern working class life, but the lack of compelling story and sense of how to tell it is the script’s downfall. A poor performance and direction exacerbate the poor text, making this production on par with the hobbyists at the village hall who speak volumes of little substance.

Two Little Dickie Birds runs through 30 July.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Two Little Dickie Birds, Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

  1. Chris says:

    Shame as this character is based on a real pub landlady with many of the situations taken from reality, i took the time to congratulate and then speak to the team after the performance I disagree perhaps the person who wrote this review is a sociopath with no emotions or feeling mmmm I loved this show I loved Paulines journey and the happy ending

    Like

  2. David Rustidge says:

    This was a play for Oldham, performed in a small studio space and managed to draw its audience into the life of the central character. Oldham is probably teeming with many such likes.A very imaginative set which was smoothly adapted as the play progressed. Act two seemed to flow better probably as we had been given the background situation and could then identify the subsequent plot developments. The audience loved it.

    Like

  3. tony de viere says:

    I saw the show at Brockley Jack and was totally captivated by Pauline’s journey. I thought that the music, projections (even the video – which I don’t think purported to be CGI), lighting and particularly the superb set worked so well to complete the piece. Not your thing then – perhaps stick to pieces about children’s entertainment!

    Like

  4. E says:

    It’s a shame that this reviewer posted the same review multiple times on more than one review site and can’t be constructive about the production, it’s had great reviews in Manchester and from London and is on its way to Ireland and Off Broadway, I think small theatre companies should be encouraged not potentially killed off before they’ve begun, So how could this production be improved, maybe the reviewer does not have that knowledge,

    Like

  5. E says:

    It’s a shame that this reviewer posted the same review multiple times on more than one review site and can’t be constructive about the production, it’s had great reviews in Manchester and from London and is on its way to Ireland and Off Broadway, I think small theatre companies should be encouraged not potentially killed off before they’ve begun, So how could this production be improved, in your opinion?

    Like

    • Hi Ethan, here are some suggestions for improvement:

      The script needs to be completely re-written and restructured, or canned and started from scratch.
      Either add more characters, or find a format that functions effectively as a one-person show. The writers should watch one person shows to see what works and what doesn’t.
      Get rid of the inane dialogue, or send it up so it’s actually funny.
      Cut the running time down to an hour max and take out the interval.
      Re-cast, and find a new director.
      Ditch the animated projections.

      Like

      • E says:

        Thanks for your reply, an hour long, I suppose it wouldn’t appeal to rep theatre just studio productions and would have less appeal as a commercial production, TV have picked up on the show and are looking at creating a drama, so not bad going for a total rewrite, of course, you are entitled to your opinion.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s