I Am A Home Bird (it’s very hard)

I’m a bit late with this review (when am I not?), but I’ve had a week! Luckily I’m not so late that you can’t actually go and see the show. This is a good thing because you really should see this show. I’m know you’ll like it. I am a Home Bird (it’s very hard) by Talking Shop Ensemble and Shaun Dunne is on at Project Arts Centre until Saturday.

You should go and see it because it’s beautiful and funny and sad. It’s set in Ireland today and it is a heart-breaking glimpse into the effects of emigration on those who go, and especially on those who are left behind. It’s about the country we are living in today, with all it’s problems and difficulties and weird little quirks.

All the performers (and probably most of the people involved in the production) are in their early twenties but have been making theatre for the last few years. (Talking Shop were in the Fringe Festival in 2009 with Ann and Barry: What time do you call this? and in 2010 with Fat. I didn’t see either of these shows because they were so popular I couldn’t get a ticket! I saw Shaun Dunne’s Market Research This in Project Brand New a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.)

This show is a very personal story, told from a particular perspective about a specific age-group. I’m only five years older than the people on stage but their experience of leaving college and looking for work is very different to mine. My age group were lucky enough to get into jobs before the country crashed down around us so we’re still here, still working, still hoping to get a mortgage sometime in the not so distance future. Last week I was working with a college students and they seemed reasonably optimistic about the future and their job prospects after graduation. But in the middle are people like Shaun and Lisa and Ellen who have watched all their friends emigrate to London, Edinburgh, Sydney and don’t know if they’ll be back. Or if they should follow them.

The beautiful thing about the show is that even though it’s told from a very particular perspective, it’s really about Ireland. It’s about the country we are living in today and the struggles it’s going through. This wider perspective is brought into the play through the use of quotes from newspaper articles about emigration and postcards from the people who have done it.

It’s a real ensemble piece and the three performers work wonderfully together. Lisa Walsh is particularly engaging; she’s a great physical performer and a lot of her movements are both funny and beautiful to watch. This, combined with the lyrical language gives the piece a lightness.

It’s an uplifting piece of theatre that will make you feel proud to be Irish. It’s a call to arms, a plea not to abandon the country in her hour of need and instead stay and help rebuild our great nation.

Go and see it – it will make you smile and put a spring in your step this weekend!

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