Written and performed by Ross Gaynor, I am a Bird Now traces the distinct but intertwined threads of identity and trauma through three acts, titled Bruce, Donna, and Anthony (the three names the character assumes). As the character traverses the evolution of their own identity and relationships with the lingering effects of a number of traumatic experiences, including having worked as a nurse after the July 2005 London bombing, we are invited to understand the difficulties this has created and the high and low points of their experience.
Under Sheils’ direction, Gaynor delivers a strong performance throughout, capturing the physicality of the character and layering the different aspects of his character with dexterity and skill. There are points at which the pacing of the narrative seemed drawn out further than necessary, and may have benefited from being condensed. However, the gradual building and exposition of the character is, for the most part, well-woven and produces a strong character whose strength is in their imperfection. With the recurrent images and symbolism of the vitruvian man, masks and costume, visual representations of the character’s questions around their gender identity are interwoven throughout the design and performance.
This symbolism is conveyed well by Naomi Faughnan’s set and costume designs, with a large image of the vitruvian man dominating the stage and the trappings of a dressing room surrounding it. Similarly, Eoin Byrne’s lighting design captures the liminal state the character inhabits, with the balance of light and dark providing a visual manifestation of the character’s evolution.
In an incisive exploration of identity in crisis, I am a Bird Now brings a multi-faceted character to the stage and lays bare the good, the bad, and the ugly of their humanity.