Christine Devaney’s And the Birds Did Sing is a gentle, moving meditation on the loss of her father, expressed through story-telling and some expressive physical movement to an evocative score by Luke Sutherland as she comes to terms with grief.
Devaney bears her soul with sensitivity.
The set is strewn with hundreds of screwed up paper balls in rows which Devaney contemplates, then rearranges. A ball here, a ball there. This goes on for far too long but it is worth putting up with this preamble for the story that follows in which Devaney bears her soul with sensitivity.
Hanging at the back of the stage are a collection of large paper formless shapes, and it is unclear at first what they represent. As the story unfolds the most likely interpretation is that they are vast bird wings as the story centres around her neighbour whom Devaney as a child nicknamed Birdie due to the woman only being seen through an upstairs window feeding the birds.
The story progresses through snatches of arresting observations. The sound of water in the street drains is ‘the devil trying to keep clean’ and a beggar is ‘selling her hands’. As her attempt to control her life by collecting the paper balls into piles proves impossible, she kicks them apart. Crouching into a ball herself, hands wound around herself, her despair is apparent. Eventually, a relationship with a lover is expressed through fluttering hands and hope appears to be in reach. It is what she learns from Birdie, however, that begins the process of healing.
It is only a pity that Devaney does not trust her own poetic fragments and expressive movement to suggest the meaning of this piece, instead of spelling it out to us.