Image Andy Ellis
As soon as you step into the Space Theatre for Man Covets Bird, you are transported into another world, much the same as the theatre has done itself. Gone are the chairs and rows you would expect from a theatre, instead, the ground is covered in real grass, and the audience is invited to take their shoes off and take a seat on the picnic blankets or in the 1950s lawn chairs behind. As soon as they step in to the theatre the audience is invited to look into a shoe-box theatre to see the train to catch to the show, lollies are handed out, and actor Nathan O’Keefe walks around talking to the audience and instigating competitions as to who can make a block of ice melt the fastest (for the record: I was beaten by a very talented young ice-melter at the picnic blanket next to me).
With the original concept by director Andy Packer, Finegan Kruckemeyer has penned a beautiful and poetic script; the journey of one person from nearly-a-man to a man, and what his life brings as he moves to the city, with only his bird for a friend. While the world and the city the man lives in can be sad and lonely, he still manages to find joy, and he discovers how to spread that joy to the sad and lonely people in the city. Narrated and acted by O’Keefe, the story is also interlaced with songs composed by Quincy Grant and performed live by a three-piece band - Grant, Steve Lennox and Gareth Chin. The interplay between the dialogue and the songs is beautiful, each working to support one another and lift the production to high heights.
It is a delight to watch O’Keefe going from narration to acting the roles of the different characters the man meets in his life; characters which become so clearly etched it is as if they were truly in the theatre. The imagination in the play is incredible: the main focus of the set (designed by Wendy Todd after initial concept by Geoff Cobham) is a simple and visually stunning rotunda, with park benches and flowers expanding the garden of the stage, and yet with the descriptions of Kruckemeyer, lighting of David Green and large-scale animations from the People’s Republic of Animation, the city and the people which populate it come to life.
The magic which is Man Covets Bird cannot possibly be described in writing. It is a show that truly needs to be seen by everyone. Leaving the theatre, I was privy to a child telling her mother, “When I catch the train home, I’m going to talk to everyone on it.” It is theatre like the work Slingsby produces which makes us all imagine a better and happier world. If more theatre were like this, the world would be a magical place indeed.
Man Covets Bird
by Finegan Kruckemeyer
Director Andy Packer
Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Dates/Times: 3 - 5 March 7pm; 6 & 7 March 6pm & 8:30pm
Tickets: Adult $29, Child $15, Concession/Student $20
Bookings: BASS on 131 246 | www.bass.net.au