The Birds and the Bees review – Norwich Theatre Playhouse

The Birds and the Bees review – Norwich Theatre Playhouse

Written by the playwright Mark Crawford for American audiences, and adapted by James McDermott for the play’s British debut, The Birds and the Bees is a slippery honey slope into the descent of sex, thrills, and laughs. BA (Hons) Acting students Duncan Bolling and Gudrun Robertsdottir recently visited Norwich Playhouse to review the theatre’s latest co-production.

“Prepare to be taken to a Norfolk farmhouse for two and a half hours, into what we would call a delightful evening that will leave you grinning as you walk out of the theatre.”

Duncan Bolling and Gudrun Robertsdottir, BA (Hons) Acting

As we walked into the theatre to see Norwich Theatre’s latest co-production, The Birds of the Bees, we were instantly transported to a mystical Norfolk farmhouse set. The wallpaper, lighting, props, and the sound of birds chirping created a comfortable atmosphere that immediately lent itself to the play’s narrative and who the characters could be.

The comedy, conceived during the pandemic, tells the story of Gail (played by Louise Gold), an East Anglian farmer who’s husband has been out of the picture for 20 years. Sarah’s middle-aged daughter Sarah (played by Laura Doddington) is also struggling in love, and the two characters must resolve their struggles while navigating an evolving mother-daughter relationship.

The play began with Louise Gold, who played Gail, entering the stage and the atmosphere lit up- we knew we were in for a treat.

Although we initially struggled to see the relationship between mother Gail and daughter Sarah at first, we really enjoyed experiencing their bond grow stronger alongside the characters. As the narrative progressed, we watched as Sarah helped her mother to deal with the upset of her lost love and discover a lust for new romantic pursuits, which Gail eventually finds in the character Earl, played by Siôn Tudor Owen.

“Although we initially struggled to see the relationship between mother Gail and daughter Sarah at first, we really enjoyed experiencing their bond grow stronger alongside the characters.”

Duncan Bolling and Gudrun Robertsdottir, BA (Hons) Acting

When Earl entered the stage in scene one, the energy changed and the comedy really set foot. Siôn truly made us laugh (although be prepared to see more of Earl’s bottom than you expected) and the line “if you want your toes to curl, spend a night with Earl” has now become one of our favourite quotes.

Then along comes Benjamin, the young, pretty boy studying science and Gail’s bees, played by Richard Mclver. The young, innocent man will end up being Sarah’s fancy, with lies about age and missing the knowledge that a condom expires. Laura and Richard both did their best work in their scenes together- their chemistry being one of the best parts of the show. 

At the end of the play, we are treated to a summary in the thesis of Benjamin and the themes surrounding it: there’s lots to life and we need to live it to the full and make sure we save the planet and have plenty of sex whilst doing so.

One of the play’s highlights for us was the use of a split stage, which was one of the best we’ve seen and has really helped us to envisage the use of split stage in our own performances. Laura Doddington as Sarah really utilised her voice perfectly to show her mother Gail was in the other room, which also helped to split the stage up nicely.  The writing also helped immerse you in the piece, and the cast had a good grip on the flow of the text making it all the more realistic.

The star of the show, in our opinion, was definitely Louise Gold as Gail- but every member of the cast did wonderfully. If you want to see a great show that’s not afraid to go into the nitty-gritty of real relationships, prepare to be taken to a Norfolk farmhouse for two and a half hours into what we would call a delightful evening that will leave you grinning as you walk out of the theatre. 

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