The Early Bird by Leo Butler is a dark drama, and the very first (official) KDC Spotlight Showcase, a play with a small cast that a director can get really intimate in the direction of.
The Early Bird taps into the darkest fear of any parent – the disappearance of their child – to brilliantly capture the nightmare of recrimination and loss. Debbie and Jack blame each other and themselves, and in doing so reveal the inner secrets of their own relationship.
The Early Bird is our first show of the forthcoming Spring Season at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town, and is directed by Zoe Thomas-Webb (whose previous productions include “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” with Sedos and “Much Ado About Nothing” with So It Does Theatre).
KDC: Let’s start with; What is it about this play that you love?
Zoe: I love it because it’s about quite a taboo subject but I like the ambiguity of it, it’s provoking and for me, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
KDC: And how is it working so closely with just two actors who will never even leave the stage?
Zoe: Surprisingly easy, as you don’t have to think about entrances/exits and quick changes etc. And it helps that we all get on (not just saying that because they’re in the room).
KDC: So from a directing point of view, what have you found to be the big rewards of working on a two-hander play?
Zoe: You tend to be able to work a lot faster and more productively as even when you get to periods where you may have crossed wires creatively, it can be cleared up quickly and you can move on.
KDC: The subject matter is a serious one, and the play itself is a dark drama. Does the nature of the play in such an intimate setting affect the tone of the rehearsals?
Zoe: Not at all, if anything I’ve never laughed more.
KDC: Have you had any specific influences to your approach or tone for the production?
Zoe: Not so much artistic influences but we have discussed issues raised by several BBC 4 dramas/Broadchurch and there’s actually been quite a lot in the media recently as it’s the 20th anniversary of the death of James Bulger so a lot of ‘real life’ influences have helped.
KDC: So a minimal question considering the minimal cast, in one word can you describe the relationship between the two characters in just one word? And how about the play itself?
Zoe: Fraught and provoking.
KDC: And let’s finish off with “the tag line that never was” – The Early Bird by Leo Butler:
Zoe: Madonna, Mars Bars and Monsters.
Many thanks to Zoe for taking the time to answer these questions.
Ticket information can be found on both www.kdctheatre.com and www.giantolive.com
“She’s got on her little orange mac. With the hood pulled up. Turns the corner and goes to catch the bus. . . You don’t think, do you? You don’t think anything’s going to happen.”
We’ve also taken the time to catch up with Kate (Debbie) and Thom (Jack), two brand-
spanking new members to KDC who have found that their first show puts them clearly in the spotlight:
KDC: The Early Bird is a drama dealing with a very serious topic. Is the dark subject matter hard to approach?
Thom: Yes (smile).
Kate: Very similar to a play that I developed with a couple of people as a project. We ended up doing a story about a couple whose child had died and they were trying to deal with it so it’s sort of just continued on from that.
KDC: What have you found to be the big rewards, if any, in being in a two hander play?
Kate: Because it’s quite an even split between us, helps to make sure we’re on the same page (not literally, well that too) so it’s easier to reach an agreement on the interpretation of the text at any given moment.
KDC: And is it easy to bond as a cast or establish the character’s relationship in a tense two hander?
Thom: It’s been a difficult subject matter to approach.
Kate: Yeah, it’s a difficult play but that’s good.
Thom: And our relationship in the play isn’t really a good relationship, so, actually, that’s quite challenging because there is a relationship – or there was one, but where it is now is not a happy place.
KDC: How would you describe your characters in one word?
Jack: Level, he’s a leveller.
KDC: If you had one sentence in which you could sell the show to your fellow KDCers; how would you describe it?
Jack: A terrifying but brilliant insight into a couples darkest times.
Kate: Two people desperately trying to rescue themselves and each other.
KDC would like to thank Thom and Kate for taking the time to answer these questions.
The Early Bird launches our Spring Season for one week only and runs for five shows from the 26th to the 30th March at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town (tickets are £12 with an £8 concession).