Written by award the award winning Nicki Bloom, directed by Geordie Brookman, and starring the incomparable Paul Capsis, Little Bird is fast becoming one of the most talked about shows in this Cabaret Festival season. For good reason, I might add. It is a unique mixing of fairytale, modern drama and rock musical that is emotional, fascinating and totally spectacular.
Capsis plays the ‘little bird’ himself, Wren, a boy who leaves his parents home to escape the depression that engrosses it. He stumbles into (and out of) a marriage, and winds up in the gutters of the big city. There he is taken in by Rocky, a bearded woodcutter who just loves to wear dresses. It is under Rocky’s tutelage that Wren transforms glamorously and begins his road to recovery.
Little Bird is an inspiring tale about learning to love and care for oneself and those who care for you, but also about blurring lines of identity, gender and reality. Wren’s journey of discovery is told through brilliant poetic writing and great tunes (by Cameron Goodall and Quentin Grant).
Capsis delivers the whole show with confidence and pizzazz in such a way as to bring multiple characters to life. Capsis has a jaw-droppingly versatile voice. He can shift from the a deep, tremulous voice of his father to the songbird tones of his mother with very little effort. There doesn’t seem to be any limit to this talent and he utilises it to give each character their own voice and identity. He is a magnificent and compelling performer, giving the idea of a solo-show whole new meaning.
The songs performed were all pretty great in their own right, but for some reason there seemed to be something just slightly off about them. A lot of them lacked enough ‘oomph’ to stand out from the rest of the performance. Though I suppose this can be seen as good thing in that it allowed the musical numbers to integrate more seamlessly with monologues. Rocky’s song about cutting trees in a dress was perhaps the highlight of the show. It is a clever, subversive and punchy number that made the crowd go wild. It wouldn’t seem out-of-place in something like The Rocky Horror Show.
Costuming plays an important part in Little Bird. Wren goes through multiple changes, and so it was necessary for Caspsis to be able to change quickly. A multi-layered costume was an ingenious, deceptively simple way of solving this issue, beginning in a Burton-esque coat and progressively removing layers to end in a futuristic, glittering vest. Along with the versatile voice and costuming, the show also features an inventive approach to set design. With a few pulleys and wires the stage can become a forest or a city-scape, with lighting to match any atmosphere.
Little Bird is a show that stands out from the crowd, unafraid to go in new directions and champion un-conventional expression. Capsis is an absolute star and will surely wow audiences with his voice in this festival and many others to come.
Reviewed by James Rudd
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Season: 6 – 22 June
Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
Tickets: $30.00 – $56.00
Bookings: Book online through the Adelaide Cabaret Festival website or phone BASS on 131 246