A one-woman show, save a seldom-heard pianist, Where Do Little Birds Go? unfurls a chapter in underground London’s sordid history.

Based on a true story: Lucy (Bishaniya Vincent) recounts her youth and friendships, moseying around the 1960s apartment where it’s soon made clear she’s being held against her will. Subject to the whims of the infamous Kray twins, the focus of last year’s Tom Hardy biopic Legend, the nightmare scenario ensues as Lucy takes us through what brought her to the horrible predicament.

Vincent is the show here and can deftly hold an audience’s attention for a full hour run. Alternately charming, mirthful and devastating, Vincent is best in the few musical interludes where Lucy breaks out into song to relay her joys and woes. A few well-chosen tunes, including the underrated Simon and Garfunkel number ‘For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her,’ provide the emotional backbone for the story and are well-carried by accompanist Liam D. Kemp.

Kemp’s interjections are relatively confined within the play to a handful of key moments. A more than able pianist charging intermittent songs in an otherwise monologue-driven play, more substantial accompanying background music was noticeably absent from the action on stage given Kemp’s presence throughout.

Emotionally diverse, Vincent’s performance is most jarring for its winsome undertones; her perceptibly bubbly persona sadly giving way to her tragic circumstances. Flitting about the stage on occasion, Vincent’s use of space is surprisingly limited, hovering in the centre of the stage for whole segments and pieces of dialogue, only reaching the far corners of the set on two occasions. Her climbing aboard a chair halfway through for one of the play’s most emphatic moments notwithstanding, the widish expanse of the apartment remained sparsely utilized.

Powerful for Vincent’s well-considered performance and ability to jump between the material’s tragic and comic highlights, Where Do Little Birds Go? shows just how far one strong performance can take a play.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Presented by Poor Toms Gin
Director: Giles Gartrell-Mills
Starring: Bishanyia Vincent

30 August – 10 September 2016

On Artshub