I thought 'Bird' would be like that, but actually - even more so than when I saw, say, Hamlet soliloquise at the RSC - it made me understand why you'd choose theatre as a medium for your story. I'm sure Amaka Okafor as Leah Bird would be brilliant in some filmed version of 'Bird', but having her wandering around right in front of you, talking the way friends do about their new boyfriends, was this unrivalled, captivating experience. In the bar afterwards, me and the people I went with said how whenever Leah posed a question we'd felt compelled to answer her. It was fully immersive - the light touches of unreality, instead of throwing you out of the world of the play, simply pushed a little at the boundaries of what you accepted.
The monologue Leah delivered snowballed from its kind of funny, kind of kitchen-sink beginning to something that was grotesque, heartrending and yet never heavy enough to be unpalatable. Leah, who is being exploited by an older man whom she describes with such loving, adoring detail, is a character who uses asides, detours and conversational dead-ends the way any other fourteen-year-old girl does. It was very difficult to sit and listen without wanting to help her; Okafor's performance was full of moments that made Leah this vital but vulnerable character (and 'We Found Love' by Rihanna, which plays a couple of times in 'Bird', has been recategorised as a tearjerker in my head now). Wonderfully, the dialogue never dipped into that horrible fake teenage-speak that some writers use when writing about young people - that weird soup of out-of-date slang, peculiar swearing and attitudes that are either completely childish or ancient. Laura Lomas' words were simple, clear, and real.