Rogues & Vagabonds
13 Sep 2007
This is a lively company and a talented one. Visually they are strong. Leslie Travers’ elegant and simple set has an A-frame of ladders on a spinning rostrum, and a tilted rostrum with a mast rising from it are set against a translucent backing. The whole cast are dressed in well-cut blue three-piece men’s suits and switch between roles as needed. They race or process over the stage and its structures to mark changes of time or location and their physicality adds great vitality to Mehrdad Seyf’s stylized production… There are good theatrical skills on display here.
12 Sep 2007
Eccentric, breathless take on the Iranian revolution. Mehrdad Seyf's play, centred around the 1906 Iranian constitutional revolution, gamely tackles a difficult and, for many of us, obscure period of history, trying not just to make gripping drama but also to make us laugh. The drama (has) a giddy free-wheeling feel and allows those on the stage to throw their whole bodies into their acting. Some of the best jokes come from the production's clever choreography.
The Financial Times
10 Sep 2007
Seyf and the cast of 30 Bird Productions emphasise the contemporary resonance by presenting events in a surreal, comic style. The versatile performers clad in blue suits take turns to play successive Shahs, revolutionaries, religious leaders and American missionaries. It is an inventive playful piece. The performers are very funny as they scatter in lightning time out of the way of the violent wrath of the Shah as he strides around looking for heads to bang and groins to knee. There is a delicious irony, of course, to an American Missionary's statement that America doesn't interfere in the other countries' affairs.
11 Sep 2006
Mehrdad Seyf's new play uses the centenary of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution as a springboard for a surreal, stylised and darkly comic essay on this pivotal point in the history of the Middle East. The five strong Anglo-Iranian cast, all wearing matching purple suits, and frequently clutching cigarettes, depict the complext social and political events that lead to this turbulent period, focusing on the changing role of Islam and the position of women in society, while also encompassing the viewpoints of Christian missionaries as well as - a trifle bizzarely - extracts from the adventures of Tintin. Erin Brodie relishes her role (as the Shah) and Ali Amadi provides unexpected laughs. The production sheds light on a fascinating and still relevant period in history.
10 Sep 2006
There are a total of five actors who take on the mammoth challenge of enacting a multitude of historical characters and their performances are breathtaking, especially the female actors who take on both male and female roles seamlessly. The stage space was so well occupied and movements were so well co-ordinated that it became a piece of choreographed dance. The stage setting is interestingly simplistic and from such simplicity comes greatness…
The minimalist stage design produces a modern feel to a story that is 100 years old. The profound message of the play which you are left feeling is that there are no heroes. It is a spectacular piece of drama, which at times is disturbing but is essentially compulsive viewing.
06 Sep 2006
An enjoyable romp through revolutionary Persia. The Persian Revolution is a timely play that feels contemporary in its issues…A riotous style and a surreal sense of humour.
01 Sep 2006
A woman kneels across a platform reading Destination Moon, one of Herge's comic-strip adventures of Tintin. In this late tale, our blonde, be-quiffed boy-hero and chums are decamped to the exotic land of Syldavia, where, a good 10 years before the first Apollo mission, the space race is already taking flight. It's Herge's usual fare of swarthy foreign agents thwarted by the thoroughly European forces of good.
As the starting point for the Cambridge-based Anglo-Iranian 30 Bird company's impressionistic history of Iran on the 2006 centenary of its constitutional autonomy, it's a playful statement of intent. It demonstrates how, caught between Russian and British empires, a mix-and-match of eastern and western influence left a template based on the Belgian constitution.
And with such a minefield of material to work with, writer/director Mehrdad Seyf somehow navigates through this labyrinth, sketching in the essence of conflict via deft imaginative leaps.
Using just five brilliantly blue-suited actors on Leslie Travers's slick, uber-cool set, 30 Bird have turned out a gorgeous-looking piece of serious fun. As a pukka voice-over fills in the gaps, shahs come and go, each incarnation adding their personal tics. The first is a Black Adderish gadabout, his successor a brutally driven ball-breaker.
Seyf makes clear, too, the contradictions of the power that comes with independence. As American evangelists on a mission to civilise and save vow to never interfere with another country's politics, the constitution's inherent misogyny is left to fester. Only when Tintin's rocket goes into orbit, though, does the blast's full impact become clear.