Whoa! Just when you think it’s safe to go to the theatre!
One thing needs to be said right up front: The Bird Man’s Wife is not a bedtime story. The Bird Man, for one thing, is not the pilot my mum sang to me about who had the penchant for flying upside down. And I think we can safely assume his wife is no Amelia Earhart, either!
Rachel Hogan’s psychodrama starts very slowly, but it heats up much like an Alfred Hitchcock film. The birds, however, are not the aggressors in this tangled web of psychoses. Drawn a little too deeply into a patient’s troubled and convoluted past, Doctor Walton (Adam Salter) finds himself embroiled in a web of deceit. His concern for his patient’s welfare drags him deeper into the futility, with tragic consequences.
The play explores a most interesting period in the history of psychotherapy, and questions the validity of many of our assumptions about mental health. Those with a stronger understanding of Freud may find themselves with something to argue about, but even for the ignoramus (yes, I fit this category, as, I suspect, did Freud himself) the theme is engaging and pertinent.
The exceptional cast of four is led by Alexandra Howard as Daphne, the bird man’s wife herself. The role is demanding and intense, and she carries it well. She is well accompanied by Phillip Meddows, whose dramatic intensity was fine, even if the pair needed a little more coaching in combat.
There is little I can say without divulging too much of the plot, but I found the play to be very engaging and well worth the excursion to Canberra’s far side… which is now even more deserving of that name for having hosted this play.
The Bird Man’s Wife closed in Belconnen tonight, but is said to be opening in Sydney in 2013. I haven’t been able to find the details, but if you like Lexx Productions’ page on Facethingy I’m sure you’ll hear about it in good time.