The Mountain Bluebird at The Courtyard
The Mountain Bluebird is a bit of a misleading title for new playwright Jamie Eastlake’s debut. This is a different kind of tweeting, more about the blue bird of the Twitter logo than the titular feathered friend. A very modern fable begins with a pair of bickering sisters and a favourited tweet, but quickly goes down a dark path.
Amelia (Victoria Gibson) is a 15-year-old who spends too much time with her head in The Cloud. She navigates the complex online world of lad culture, Harry Potter puns, the ethics of Instagram and the art of flirting with emojis to a soundtrack borrowed from 500 Days of Summer. But beneath the filters and behind the glare of the screens lies something even more terrifying than the darkest corners of the net: reality. Amelia comes from a broken home and a broken society, so it’s apt that the set is piles of broken technology. The ugly truth is that Amelia isn’t a sexy and intelligent 20-something, but rather a confused teen with a far-right dad (Dermot Dolan) and a fractious relationship with her sister Sophie (Jennifer Thompson). Josh (Isaak Robinson), the guy she finds herself chatting to, isn’t a rich jet-setter but a northern lad with a bunch of fake Rolexes, creating a glitzy life for the likes and the banter.
It’s virtually impossible to summarise the complicated plot. At times The Mountain Bluebird feels like a 2014 recap, as Eastlake takes us from the John Lewis Christmas ad to Islamic extremism via Tinder. It’s certainly current but plays out like a lazy hour on Buzzfeed, absent-mindedly clicking on articles until you reach a point of information overload. There’s everything from Dapper Laughs and feminism to 70s paedophiles and disgraced YouTuber Sam Pepper. We scroll through but don’t linger long enough on any one theme. There’s enough ground covered for a whole fistful of plays, which results in a frustrating lack of depth – a problem that could have been solved with a tighter focus on fewer issues.
There are several strong performances, particularly from Victoria Gibson as Amelia. Taking The Mick theatre company is one to keep an eye on, and so is Eastlake. Although The Mountain Bluebird closes with some cringe-inducing monologues that almost undermine the social commentary of the piece, his script is peppered with promising wit and one-liners.
Photo: Andreas Lambis
The Mountain Bluebird is on at The Courtyard Theatre until 15th February 2015, for further information or to book visit here.