The Bird & The Bee

This article is from 2008

The Bird & The Bee

Powerful double bill tells tales of star-crossed lovers

The young, it is sometimes said, are society’s canaries in the mine, the first to sense when something has gone awry. Few could have failed to be moved by the strange and tragic events at Bridgend in Wales, where, in the months to June this year, 22 teenagers took their own lives in what are thought to be suicide pacts. The Bird & The Bee, a new double bill from Kandinsky, one of the most exciting young companies to bring work to Edinburgh in recent years, powerfully examines how young lives become bereft of all hope.

‘I sat down with Matt Hartley, who wrote the other half of the production, and we were talking about what we wanted to do for the Fringe,’ says Al Smith, writer of The Bird. ‘We were reading through a newspaper and on one side there was a piece about the teenage suicides at Bridgend. On the other side was a piece about Colony Collapse Disorder, which is when all these bees up and leave their colonies and die by their hundreds of thousands. It made us think about the social rot that is seeping through our system, one that young people seem to be especially sensitive to, and the comparisons that could be made between these bees and the young suicides.’

While the two pieces are linked in theme and concept, they also function as stand alone works. ‘We thought we would do two plays about what drives people to take their own lives, about the rot that is forcing their own hands, but each write around a separate character for separate pieces,’ says Smith. ‘But both are surprisingly funny – which is good as they could have ended up as the most gloomy and doomy things.’

Potential gloom aside, Kandisky look set to continue producing some of the most powerful new writing on the Fringe.

Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, 3–24 Aug (not 13), 2.15pm (The Bee), 5.40pm (The Bird), £9–£10.50 (£8–£9). Previews 31 Jul–1 Aug, £6.

The Bird and the Bee: The Bird

  • 2 stars

A teenage boy speaks to his mother, a Russian prostitute, of his first love, after both mother and son have endured a life of great travail, much of it confined to the cramped brothel they inhabit. For all its dark introspection, Al Smith's four-hander fails to bring enough originality or insight into its story to…