Review: Today I Killed My Very First Bird

Violent outbursts and vulnerable meltdowns

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 11 Aug 2022
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Fest magazine

Five actors sit behind a long table, faces lit up in turn by anglepoise lamps. They read from Jason Brownlee’s script, a poem based on his own experiences growing up around crime and addiction in South-East London. While the characters may feel familiar, to the point of cliché in places, the acting is leathery tough and convincing. Bernie (Amber L Jacobs) loves shagging, prosecco and cocaine; Bunny (Brandon Howard) is a Jamaican Yardie delivering drugs on his bike and Brownlee, sat in the middle, is prone to violent outbursts as well as vulnerable meltdowns.

It’s a macho script full of tarts, nonces, bints and treacles, like Guy Ritchie experimenting in dark, lo-fi spoken word, with little respite or redemption in the gritty storyline. Meeting director Lee Hart in 2015 then writing the script in 2016 was clearly a cathartic process for Brownlee, who says the process turned his life around. Childhood trauma and toxic masculinity bubble to the surface as Brownlee delves into his past, taking us on a woozy, fever dream of nightclubs and gangsters where warm flashbacks of his Cockney gran giving him a comforting bath blur with squalid scenes of self-harm, STIs and semi-automatic guns.