Thursday, July 18, 2024


Writer and Director: Lily Hayman
Kings X Theatre
March 7-12, 2022

It is a pity that Lily Hayman’s Fledgling is showing for such a short time as it offers its audience a deeply emotional, intellectually provocative, and aesthetically satisfying experience. Inspired by Joshua Lobb’s A Flight of Birds, a novel composed of twelve short stories, Hayman’s luminous adaption gives much needed insight into why when our human habitat is threatened we find it difficult to change inherited patterns of behaviour.

The play opens with an almost choreographic account of a family situation. A mother (a wisely maternal Jessica Melchert) and daughter (Claire Gilmour) – and a curious and impersonal “narrator” (Michael Ho) whose role is to prompt questions – stand in line but it feels incomplete. When the father (a convincing Benjamin Stonnil) eventually emerges from the shadows to take his place in the lead, they come together in a family circle – almost like a nest – and perform a sequence of movements, passing one gesture to another repetitively.

While the family lives as a unit, the man is often away “somewhere in his head”. There are moments – over an anecdote of a bird stealing bacon from a plate of scraps – when daughter and her father meet but, as the sly narrator steps in to tell us, a moment is not a moment as it can endure for a lifetime. The man’s story is gradually revealed, and we learn that the mysterious and troubling wail heard near the ruined schoolhouse is an expression of his childhood grief when he learned of his mother’s death. Grief that he could never express to a taciturn father isolated him from others and deep anxiety imprisoned him in fixed behaviour.

Interleaving their dysfunctional family life, we are given anecdotes and information about birds. Notable, is the recording of a fledgling kookaburra learning to laugh from its parents and, most significantly, our attention is focussed on the imitative and magical lyrebird, its dance movements beautifully captured by Michael Ho. The young lyrebird learns unique sounds from older males through constant practice.

While not completely comparable, the ability to learn complex behaviours is shared by human and the bird world, and the question becomes whether the restricted emotional range of the father – or the bird called Sorrow – will be transmitted by imitation to his daughter? Or are there options? While the conclusion of the play is unforgettably poignant, it is made apparent it is a possible and not a definitive end.

A highlight of the performance was the lovely image of flying performed by our mysterious narrator gliding above the earthbound image of the father as a troubled young man. How would a bird tell this man’s story? And as we know so little about what our non-human sharers of the world know or what they might want – and with too many of us thinking “warblish” represents the real voice of birds – we have long considered ourselves a superior creation. But we are equally and undeniably dependent on a threatened habitat – so what are our options if we want to survive?



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -spot_img
- Advertisment -spot_img

Sydney’s best ‘top 20’ result in prestigious world rankings

The University of Sydney has secured its highest ever ranking overall and continues to be rated as a top 20 global university in the 2025 QS World University Rankings.

Homes NSW to develop North Eveleigh Clothing Store site

The North Eveleigh Clothing Store Precinct will be transferred to Homes NSW for the delivery of 500 new homes, half of which will be social and affordable homes.

A new kind of industry policy

The Trevor Davies Memorial Lecture is an annual event hosted by the Trevor Davies ALP Branch, and the Newtown ALP State Electorate Council. This year, it was held at the Royal Hotel on June 13. Assistant Minister Tim Ayres, a former branch member and Darlington local, was asked to deliver the address.

Volunteers’ News – July 2024

Volunteers’ News – July 2024.

Refreshing approach to food production

REDFERN: On July 21, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the new website for Native Botanical Brewery (NBB), and to talk to the team behind this new and innovative business.

‘A giant in the fight for First Nations justice’

It is with great sadness that Reconciliation Australia sends our condolences to the family and friends of the Rev. Dr D. Gondarra OAM.