Hummingbird by Marcs McManus, Lion and Unicorn Theatre. Camden Fringe

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There is a moment where the central character, Owen, passes a member of the audience a camcorder to record him for his vlog. This was a brief, simple moment yet said so much about the direction the piece was heading. Who holds the power? The person speaking into the camera, or the personholding it and watching them?

Hummingbird by Marcus McManus primarily explores the power of communication in the 21st century, or more specifically, how the power of communication can be used and
weaponised to serve the interests of an elite and elusive few. It highlights the contradictions and double standards we observe in western media, and often unknowingly ourselves partake in, bringing them to the surface. It also takes a look at how environmental issues can be overshadowed and side-lined in favour of more shapers faster-paced news.

The story follows Owen a hummingbird (a social media based commentator) and Emma, an environmental activist who he meets travelling and later develops a relationship, as they suddenly find themselves dropped into a terrible ordeal. First and foremost, the writing by Marcus McManus is of a high standard. Dialogue between characters, whilst sometimes appearing forced, seemed for much of the show natural yet considered. Furthermore, comedic moments were not overplayed and never ill-timed. The pacing is quick, sharp, though never so much so as to leave a moment prematurely or unjustifiably. Routinely it jumped from one part of the world to another and did this, and additionally played with time, beautifully; never breaking the natural flow of the piece. Even when the show veered off into more ominous or horrific territory its form didn’t elapse nor alter but kept true to its motif. The characters were well written and performed superbly by the cast (Marcus McManus, Rosie-lea Sparkle, Anton Saliba, Georgina Armfield and Eoin McKenna); I particularly enjoyed the naturalism of the scene between Emma and Fran. The bare set design I felt wouldn’t have worked so well had the characters not been so well played. Though, I must say I did not fully understand the physical segment at the beginning as it seemed slightly out-of-kilter with the rest of the piece. But, overall the show was thought provoking and an interesting piece of storytelling. Well done to all the cast and those involved.

Allen McGlynn (guest blogger)

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