Theatre is for the birds

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

Theatre is for the birds.

I have been feeling a little bit disheartened (bored to distraction) by some of the recent theatrical productions in Cape Town. Maynardville’s presentation of Comedy of Errors keeps jumping into my head. What a calamitous romp through Shakespeare and Kung Fu. I so wish I did not have to witness it. And yet I read reviews that sang its high praises. I thought for a while that I was becoming hard. Jaded.  Instantly recognizing the need for self-medication I ignored all theatre invites and visited the bottom of my cupboard for introspection.  Then along came Owl.  Well actually to be honest before Owl came The Birds – by Aristophane – which ran at Kirstenbosch. What a venue. Great  performances. Great costumes… and then came Owl.


Here’s a play that is likely to give you total recall of  sweaty heavy petting in the dark, the exhilaration of the first kiss, and the absolute realization of how your world has shifted, only a bit – but certainly permanently – to another plane after you lost your virginity.


Briony Horwitz is Olivia, the shy new girl in town who meet up with Kay, a fast talking, rough –around-the-edges type of girl that hides her pain underneath her tough exterior. The girls’ innocent friendship turns to confusion and serious introspection as the years go by and Olivia finds herself in love with Kay.  The girls have to deal with all the awkwardness of growing up as well as abuse and neglect.  Sounds heavy but it somehow is not.  It is just so totally honest. And real.


Mostly, when I go to the theatre, I look forward to it as an opportunity to escape, ‘Let’s go and look  at how other people see the world for a change,’ and walking out of my own head for an hour – which is sheer relief.  Owl doesn’t let you escape. Instead it draws you in and hypnotizes you with its apparent simplicity. Briony plays a slew of characters with a seamless breathless ease that had our eyes transfixed to her every movement. The stage is bare apart from a battered sofa which she uses and abuses as she lives through her characters. Fiona Du Plooy’ choreography is uncanny, a little distressing, but mostly mesmerizing as she directs Briony’s slender body through her agonizing and exhilarating moments. 


It felt at times as if Briony’s characters were ever so slightly tilting a mirror towards the audience, which is terribly unnerving. It is a play performed by a woman, about a woman growing up – written by a man. I never got to ask Jon Keevy how he managed to get to write such a beautifully honest coming-of-age piece from a female perspective. He is obviously either a genius or he has seven sisters. No matter, I do predict that this play will travel well on its way to Grahamstown and beyond.


Owl runs until 2 March 2012. For more information or bookings call 084 2498532 / or e-mail
review by Astrid Stark




  1. […] Head, Astrid Stark and Theatre Scene Cape […]


  2. So funny Astrid, while we both agree on OWL, The Birds made me want to change careers and sell used cars.


  3. brettfish says:

    Jon Keevy is a genius. Great review!


  4. astridstark1 says:

    Yes I watched you watch the Birds Megan and you did not look amused. I don’t know, it just made me giggle so insanely. It’s the dialogue that did it for me and all that ludicrous bobbing and squawking and scratching just had me in fits. Great costumes and the venue. But yes I guess its also a matter of taste – maybe I have none:-) The Comedy of Errors left me stone cold and I read your beautifully and well-thought out review and I thought maybe I should retire to data capturing.


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