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DIRECTOR: Marc Kay
CAST: Adam Doré
VENUE: Catalina Theatre
“Speculate to accumulate” – that’s the philosophy Augustus St John Merriweather lives by as he goes from town to town selling a con, passing it off as a dream that could very well come true.
In Birdman, written and directed by Marc Kay, Merriweather’s journey through life dissects issues of belief, success and failure and how these can lead to pushing boundaries and survival.
Set in the late 1800s, Birdman is a fictionalised account of Merriweather (Doré) – a con artist turned pioneering aviator.
He goes about his business of selling the “next big thing”, a flight/glider contraption. But Merriweather’s no scientist, he is a con artist, trying to make money to get home from Boston to New York, with his younger sister in tow. He does this by selling “miracle elixirs” and trying to get people to invest in his flight “invention”.
At the heart of this con man is just a man trying to survive – this the audience learns as he interacts with his sister (representing his conscience) and mulls over his situation (which the audience experiences through his thoughts audible through voice-overs).
Merriweather’s life hasn’t been easy – as he puts it, “A man grows old real quick when he ain’t had the opportunity to be a child” – and it is this background that forces him to be a creature of survival, who will “do what it takes to survive”. But what he has not banked on is an unexpected twist in his relationship with his sister and a run-in with the law.
These circumstances see Merriweather on a new path of self-discovery.
Birdman is an attractive human interest piece, but also one that tugs at the heartstrings as you contemplate Merriweather’s short journey from boy to man, the dreams we have and the lengths we will go to to achieve them – regardless of the threat of failure – and the need we have to believe in something bigger and better.
Doré does a good job of portraying Merriweather, allowing the audience to experience all his facets – the con man and the inventor – and his acting helps us warm to Merriweather as a father figure to his sister. His portrayal does justice to Kay’s writing in bringing out the humanness of this man.
• Birdman – which carries a PG warning – is being staged at the Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf, Durban, until Sunday. R60, R40 for students, pensioners and block bookings from www.strictlytickets.com or 031 305 6889.