Starbird is a delightful show, performed by two charismatic women, ably assisted by some very cute starchick puppets. It tells the story of the beautiful Starbird - a bird who spends her time laying eggs and showering them with songs that set the stars alight. Enter a greedy hunter, determined to seize the eggs and, when hatched, force the chicks to serve him. A strong narrative is punctuated with some well-handled audience interaction - the children were consulted for their opinions on the action, leading to some funny and surprising comments - and invited on stage at various moments to take part in the plot. None of this felt forced - both actors have a wonderful way of enticing the children to lose their inhibitions and get involved.
As for the set, we were confronted with tall rectangular screens, onto which are sewn various bits of fabric, creating the impression of a tropical forest. These screens are wheeled around to reveal a night sky and some paper star lanterns, which light up when Starbird sings. This is not particularly high-tech stuff, and I suppose if you’re looking for faults, you might criticise the set and costumes for being a little on the basic side. But the children didn’t care. In fact, Starbird’s bright plumage and gossamer-like wings captivate the children: ‘Ooh, she’s beautiful!’. It’s a credit to the talented actors that they can impress so much with remarkably little in terms of props. This is all about buying into the story and entering into a magical world for 45 minutes, something that’s also made easier by effective and imaginative lighting and some lovely music and sound effects.
Interaction ranges from calling out ‘Ha yay’ to encourage the eponymous bird to appear; gentle at-seat enquiries, designed to probe young imaginations; on-stage miming of actions, including a girl pretending to be a tree, while the audience mimed cutting her down; and a lovely Chinese Whispers moment among the audience - charmingly undermined by a very excited child shouting out the words. Then there is the grand finale, which I’m not going to spoil. It’s enough to say we get the happy ending we were all hoping for, and some bagpipe music thrown in for good measure.
This is enchanting theatre that should appeal to all adults, and children - from a very young age (some babies at my show) upwards. All concerned were engrossed throughout and I left feeling rather chirpy. Great show!