Icabod’s Free Birds are flying high with a hearty look at love

Romance and relationships: Free Birds by David Cortona performed by Icabod at Square Chapel, Halifax
Romance and relationships: Free Birds by David Cortona performed by Icabod at Square Chapel, Halifax

Free Birds

By Derek Greenwood

TWO ‘ordinary’ middle-class professionals flashbacking through their beginnings, nervously and believably performed by Ellen Shorrock and Christopher Tauers.

It’s directed with a light and intelligent touch by June Russell: on an empty set and with stunning use of the fourth wall, they tacked, almost shyly, across the space recounting their first meeting, first love and first sex, pursuing a romance fuelled by the unhappiness of their failing relationships elsewhere.

Refreshingly light and honest performances edgily progressed this real-life drama with tenderness and strangely interesting detail.

The two characters rubbed intimately against each other in an improvised meander through two people’s lives.

With their regular trysts disrupted by Lizzie’s emigration to California, an absurd loneliness hits them, with weekly phone calls replacing the exciting frisson of previous meetings as they move uneasily from lovers to ‘best friends’. Each is further compromised by a Texan, called Randy and a mysterious, over-sexed French sophisticate, called Solange, both cleverly played by our two original performers, as they staggered through still-failing marriages, still insisting they’re ‘best friends’.

The inappropriateness of these new relationships was portrayed with desperate awkwardness and integrity as a future solution screamed at us from a distance.

A fraught and drink-fuelled meeting in France stoked a fire but provided a bucket of confessions to douse it with, as both characters slipped into gender stereotype and ploughed on towards a final tragedy, a sort of artisan versus philistine scenario – guess who played the latter!

Well written, performed and directed.