Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61), Edinburgh
Until 26 August 2018
Birdie (Su Pollard) is a hoarder and the bane of her neighbours and social services. She likes to belt out 80s pop music – Bananarama, Eurythmics – late at night and her house is a health hazard. Harridan and harpy to most, locals tell children that she’ll take their soul if she catches them looking in the window.
Her comments are sharp and insensitive – and often witty – and she sees the ‘mishaps’ that envelop her as not quite how they appear to everyone else. However, for all her bluster she has a keen observation and there is an organisation to the chaos of her home, a rationale that unfolds slowly in her life story.
When a new social worker comes to try and help her, Birdie thinks she’s found a friend and it unlocks something in her that’s long been hidden.
Pollard plays all the parts with her trademark gusto – and occasionally the edges of the characters blur – but it makes the quiet reflective moments of revelation all the more powerful.
Birdie, like the play, isn’t the persona she presents, the wit and humour give way to something that feels like an emotional punch in the gut.