St Michael’s Players present The Birds

Image above: St Michael’s Players production of The Birds

‘More psycho drama than action thriller’

St Michael’s Players are putting on a production of The Birds, the story by Daphne du Maurier brought to a much wider audience by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film. We spoke to director Paul Smith.

The story – two people, Diane and Nat have found a place of safety in a post apocalyptic world in which the human race has been all but wiped out by birds. Something has happened in nature which has turned the birds against people. They are joined by another woman who upsets the delicate balance.

“It’s more psycho drama than action thriller” he says, so it is perfectly suited to a small group of actors performing in a confined space.

“The atmosphere of the story is quite claustrophobic. It all takes place in one room of an abandoned house” he tells me.

They haven’t tried to reproduce the birds themselves, as the risk of descending into farce is too great. In the film Tippi Hedren drips with blood as the birds descend on her and take gouges out of her head. In St Michael’s Players’ version the presence of the birds is suggested by the noises of them bashing against the windows and cawing.

There are four characters on stage: Arabella Harcourt-Cooze (Diana), Neil Dickins (Nat), Georgina Parren (Julia) and David Burles (Tierney, a farmer).  I asked if Paul had ‘done a Hitchcock’ and appeared incidentally. It turned out he had, though he hadn’t realised it before. At the beginning of the play we hear some of the last radio broadcasts, and he is one of the broadcasters.

They chose to perform the play because of its relevant resonounces today, he told me, with climate change and Covid lockdowns. They will be taking it to Edinburgh to perform at the fringe festival.

The Birds is on at St Michael’s hall in Elmwood Rd from Wednesday 23 – Saturday 25 June.

Book tickets through St Michael’s Players website.

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