Exploring the complex nature of teenage relationships, Charlie Josephine’s play is thought provoking and a useful resource for young people to watch.
To break down the complicated nature of teenager relationships with each other and social media effectively really takes some doing, but as Charlie Josephine’s play shows it can be done with great power and insight.
Birds and Bees follows four teenagers who are stuck in detention and end up discussing two people in their year who have ended up in serious trouble following the release of intimate pictures that have ended up online. It doesn’t take long for tension to build and opinions and judgements to fly around the room.
Throughout the just over 40 minutes, the teenagers express opinions on everything from social media to identity, highlighting just how each issue affects them personally. It is a passionate and well thought out piece of drama that explores each topic concisely, particularly when the discussion focuses on the two people who have got into trouble for sharing explicit photos and messages – who is really to blame?
Directed with great focus and intimacy by Rob Watt, the production has a great energy about it from start to finish with plenty of space for the characters to develop and transform across the production. In particular, the way in which the audience sees the inner turmoil that each of them experience on a range of issues is really cleverly done. This is really seen when Leilah has a panic attack over not helping her friend when she needs her or Maisey feeling anxious about the pressure from other people to be the best – this highlighting of their anxiety shows how they have more in common then they let on.
Damilola ‘DK’ Fashola’s movement direction also gives insight into the way the characters are feeling frustration and anxiety – lost in their own thoughts and emotions. It adds another layer to the way in which the characters feel able to express themselves – particularly when Aaron learns of his friend being in hospital.
The production also features mature performances from all of the cast who really get to the heart of their characters well. In particular EM Williams as Billie delivers a really grounded performance as Billie, involved with all the key discussions particularly surrounding gender – it is an honest and completely enjoyable performance. Meanwhile, Ida Regan as Maisey beautifully highlights her anxiety and the pressure to be perfect, Narisha Lawson as Leilah is wonderfully confident and Ike Bennett has plenty of swagger but with a hint of vulnerability to add extra depth to his character. All are certainly ones to look out for in the future.
Birds and Bees is a powerful and insightful piece of theatre that many teenagers watching will be able to relate to. It teaches us that the power of education can not be underestimated – particularly when it comes to issues such as social media, sexuality, gender and identity.
By Emma Clarendon
To find out more about Birds and Bees being made available to schools visit: https://shop.theatre-centre.co.uk/products/birds-and-bees-digital-package. To stream the production as a member of the public from the 8th to the 28th March visit: https://sohotheatreondemand.com/