Birdwatchers’ Wives

Birdwatchers’ Wives is effectively a one-woman show, with the climax being seven-foot Rita (the Great Crested) Grebe competing in a ‘bird-off’ – an avian version of X Factor. But, despite Caroline Smith’s extensive research into the bird-watching community, the show doesn’t really take flight.

This work-in-progress has a long way to go before you could say it has real wings.

We arrive in the Demonstration Room at Summerhall. It’s a cracking setting – the nestlike quality is wholly appropriate to the show - although once truly was enough for the site-specific joke, "Shall I demonstrate in...the Demonstration Room?"

We are greeted by Grouse, Rita’s daughter, and warned to stay inside the safety line. Rita perches centre stage in her fabulous feathered gown. The whole thing is bizarre and promising.

But, some way into the show Rita asks, ‘Still waiting for something to happen?’ And we are. In that sense, Birdwatchers’ Wives is rather like the real experience of the twitchers out there - knowing there just might be something worth waiting for, but packing up and heading home disappointed with little ticked off the list.

"Oh, twitchers, keep looking!" Rita implores. We do. We wait. By the end of the show, we can tick off hair-gorging, force feeding, a talent competition in which Rita thrashes her rival Maggie, video interludes of a murder that seems to have come out of nowhere, and ornithological puns galore. There’s even a nice bit of theatre when a food box is discovered, but all this doesn’t add up to a coherent whole. By and large the audience were non-plussed.

I wanted to like this show. I really did. Stunning costumes, perfect venue, and a great poster – bags of potential. Performance artist Caroline Smith clearly has the skills to fly. But, when a show is as static as this, with its (almost) sole protagonist spending much of the performance perched on a box, the material needs to be very good indeed. It’s not. This work-in-progress has a long way to go before you could say it has real wings.

Reviews by Sue Bevan

Dixon Place

The Unwritten Law

★★★★★
The Jazz Bar

Remembering Chet

★★★★
Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Have Fun

★★
theSpace on North Bridge

Angel: Take This Body

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

Shame

★★★★
Freestival St Mary's

Alasdair Lists Everything

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Meet Rita Grebe, a seven-foot woman who thinks she’s a bird. The latest alter-ego of performance artist Caroline Smith, ‘deliciously dark’ (Guardian), ‘curiously cathartic’ (Times), was researched with British birdwatchers - and now Rita’s hell-bent on turning the archetype of the twitcher on its head. Dressed in elaborate great crested grebe plumage, Smith questions what happens when a bird runs the show and the label of ‘human’ no longer applies. Expect the comical and surreal, for not everything is what it seems… Continuing Smith’s themes of uprooting the everyday in order to uncover and examine the strange. www.birdwatcherswives.co.uk

Most Popular See More

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets