Review: 6 Ways to Break a Bird at Reading Fringe Festival

four and a half


The naming of women as birds is a familiar part of our language.

Most recognisable as a catcall, or heard from the mouth of a bloke at the pub referring to his wife or girlfriend, ‘bird’ in that context isn’t exactly flattering. It’s something we’re used to as women, and it is not always said with bad intent, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right.

So Becci Louise is taking the meaning of bird back, reshaping it, and letting it fly, in the most beautiful way possible.

Her show is storytelling at its finest. Standing on stage, with just a ringbinder full of words, and her bird, little grey Maya, perched on her shoulder, Becci tells us her story, of being a woman, and what that means, and of her desire to get a bird.

When Becci’s boyfriend suggests she might need to lose some weight she makes him a deal. She’ll lose two pounds if she can have a bird.

Her imagery of these winged creatures is stunning, from the red kite at a sanctuary which she compares to a Jurassic beast, to the cumulonimbus feathers of her own little bird. Her words are lyrical and thoughtful, with the occasional rhyme which makes the words as beautiful to listen to as her message is powerful.

A section of her story which gently compared women to different types of birds particularly resonated – looking at the way women see themselves, the way they treat each other, and the perception of women from those around them. It’s powerful stuff, but its also entertaining. Becci tells her tale with plenty of humour and lightness, and her delivery is lively and earnest.

Watching Maya hop from shoulder to hand, and squawk throughout the show really cements everything Becci is saying. The bond between bird and woman is charming and real and honest. Birds are quite clearly wonderful, intuitive, magnificent creatures. And so are women.

The Reading Fringe Festival is on until Sunday 24 July. 6 Ways to Break a Bird is also showing at Milk Bar in Reading on Sunday 24 July at 6.30pm.

I was invited to review the show so my ticket was complimentary but all views are my own.

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