REVIEW: Paul Capsis in Little Bird
It’s hard to praise Paul Capsis highly enough for his performance in Little Bird, the big-bucks co-production between the State Theatre Company of South Australia and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
Headline act in the world’s biggest festival of its type, Little Bird was much hyped, and all the riskier for it, but it sure delivers the goods.
The reason – well, Paul Capsis. Written for him by Nicki Bloom, directed for him by Geordie Brookman, designed around him by Geoff Cobham, and composed for him by Cameron Goodall and Quentin Grant, it’s a near perfect fit.
The story can be taken any which way, but basically it’s an allegory of a journey from infancy to adulthood, with all the challenges it entails.
Capsis’ character, Wren, has a blissful childhood with a loving mother and a devoted father, but then one day, mother is gone, and with it the idyllic happiness that’s characterised his life.
The tiny, personal touches, like looking forward to mum’s pikelets, ring true.
The music and the theatre are inextricably interwoven, from the lovely 'Lullaby' that begins the show through episodes sometimes dramatic, sometimes climactic, to the clever ending that ties a neat bow around Wren’s odyssey.
Capsis is larger than life, if that’s possible, and the script plays to all his strengths, from innocence and whimsy to a street-wise, cross-dressing wanna-be siren.
If there’s a single criticism, it’s that it goes on just an episode too long.
Having reached a very satisfactory musical and dramatic conclusion, with a feeling of a return to the beginning, completing the circle, it ascends to a violent, tormented cry that rather suggests all are not happily living after.
It’s not impossible that this grim epilogue might be lost in future seasons, which is heartily to be wished.
Not that it mattered a bit to the Opening Night audience, who stood and cheered the roof off the theatre.
Her Majesty’s Theatre, June 10 (season to June 22)