Birdland

Published April 10, 2014

What’s it all about?

Following his adaptation of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens is back with a bleak look at fame and celebrity.

The always impeccable Andrew Scott stars as a megalomaniac rock star in the final throes of a world tour, the return to his lowly beginnings in London a world away from the excesses of room service – hot and cold tempura cod roe or rabbit with hot apple jelly anyone? – and sexual escapades served with a side of cruelty and bile. As the final gig approaches, a series of events caused by his own manipulative hand sees him sink further into some form of psychosis.

Who’s in it?

Scott is supported by a talented ensemble who play supporting characters that revolve around singer Paul like planets around a sun; it may burn but they just can’t keep away. Nikki Amuka-Bird brings a fresh innocence to proceedings as a hotel worker who finds herself seduced by Paul’s sporadic desire for normality, while Yolanda Kettle is tasked with playing a series of caricatures from a trustafarian with an A-Level in hair-flicking to a gum chewing groupie.

As the magnetic draw at the centre, I’d bet money on Stephens having written the role of Paul for Scott who, in clothes of varying shininess – the man can pull off patent, leather and glitter at the same time, a rare feat – is utterly believable as a rock star. The Sherlock actor is magnificent as the vapid and shallow performer teetering on the edge of insanity, his extraordinary unpredictability as a performer keeping the audience on their toes.

What should I look out for?

Much like a rock star bored in a hotel room with a television at his disposal, Stephens and director Carrie Cracknell have thrown realism out the window, so expect hallucinogenic visions, acid bright colours, strobe lighting and a show-stopping watery design by Ian MacNeil.

Who was in the press night crowd?

We spotted Olivier Award nominee Cush Jumbo chatting in the bar beforehand, Royal Court writers Alexi Kaye Campbell and Polly Stenham in the stalls, and the more unexpected Gary and Danielle Lineker.

In a nutshell?

Andrew Scott is a born rock star in Simon Stephens’ bleak surrealist piece that brings an essence of German theatricality to Sloane Square.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@CHIMPSINSOCKS Sublime. Wonderful. Bleak. Touching. Inspired. Devastating. Impeccable. And Andrew. Go see this. Now! #Birdland @royalcourt @StephensSimon

@vickster51 #Birdland = an exciting play & Andrew Scott is superb playing dark, scared, dangerous, playful, cruel, emotional, emotionless & so much more

Will I like it?

If you’re an Andrew Scott fan, you’d likely be happy to watch him in anything, and he owns this role. Fans of realism and scene changes that don’t involve characters throwing shapes to techno may not find what they’re looking for, but push out of your comfort zone and you’ll find no better exploration of the price you pay for selling your soul for the perfect peach on a silver platter. That way danger lies.

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