The Cagebirds

First of all – a confession. I have never read David Campton’s 1976 play The Cagebirds, nor had I ever seen it in performance before watching this competent adaptation by eight sixth-form students from Cheltenham Ladies’ College. It is to their credit that I now feel the strong urge to make a trip down to my nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of the play.

It is clear that all the actors have considerable potential.

Seven women are locked in a cage. They are each preoccupied by unique fixations such as food and gossip. One day, the Wild One is made to join them in their imprisonment, and tries to persuade the others to break out of their captivity. Although they are given the opportunity to escape, they reject it, and it becomes clear that they are prisoners of their own fears and doubts. They would rather live in a confined world and enjoy the comforts offered by their benevolent captor, than shoulder the responsibilities that come with freedom.

The actors go well together as an ensemble, and do a good job at displaying bird-like characteristics, preening and ruffling their costumes when at rest. Elaine Kim delivers a solid performance as the Wild One, although she might benefit from channeling more impassioned energy into her expressions and physical movements.

The judicious artistic decision to emphasise the repetitive speech of each of the actors rather than make their surroundings excessively claustrophobic, successfully conveys the notion that the most effective – and insidious – cage is the invisible one which the women construct around themselves.

Although it takes a while for the play to pick up momentum, and the acting could be a bit more polished in some parts, it is clear that all the actors have considerable potential. I hope to see more of them in the years to come.

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The Blurb

With previous successes, such as our 2014 production of Saving Grace at St Mable's, Cheltenham Ladies’ College returns this year with their exciting production of The Cagebirds by David Campton. Written in 1976, The Cagebirds is a play for eight women. Birds in a cage live, each absorbed in their own characteristics. When the Wild One is released amongst them by their mistress, she persuades them to break out from their self-imposed dependence and imprisonment, freeing themselves into the wider world. This play is performed by eight of our sixth form girls.

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