Wing And A Prayer's canter through the forgotten shorter plays of James Saunders continues with a hybrid of Waiting For Godot with feathers and Gary Larson's "what we say/what our pets hear" cartoon. The "songs" of Tinker and Joey (Robert Murrey and Larry Waller) are in fact philosophical dialogues of Wittgensteinian complexity, as they fuss about their cage – up and down the little ladder, ringing the little bell, bemoaning the scarcity of cuttlefish, checking their plumage in the little mirror (but their plumage consists of institutional smocks, for added though vague psychological ambiguity). Into their cage is thrust voluble dissident Trixie (Rebekah Janes), whose insistent squawks for freedom both disrupt the aimless but pleasant twittering of the others and threaten the pecking order.
Director Donalh MacNeil forges a physical vocabulary more at the level of exaggerated tic than all-out anthropomorphism, and the conceit's engaging enough for 50 minutes; but subtexts about the self-regulating sterility of intellectualism, or symbolism concerning state psychiatric repression, are visible without emerging forcefully. Still, no offence.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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