The one-woman-show starts off like a kitsch Broadway musical, with shiny lights and a brightly smiling lead actress. But the bubble bursts soon, as twenty-four years old Lucy Fuller (Jessica Butcher) tells the audience how she got kidnapped by the infamous Kray twins and locked up with an escape-murderer, at age eighteen.
The audience gets a rough but honest image of the Kray-twins-ruled East London in the sixties. After all, the story is a re-telling of actual events. The Kray twins really have kidnapped a hostess from their nightclub 1966. Also the settings are real-life locations such as The Beggar pub, which “smelled like piss for no reason at times” and glamorous Winston club. The only made up thing is Lucy Fuller’s name and her past.
Lucy is a teenage girl that can’t wait to have her dreams come true. Even though her life hasn’t been too far on the bright side, she is convinced that she can make it in London. She is over the top when she gets a job at London’s most prestigious club. However, the dream soon starts to fade. Starting with Lucy’s surprise about how skimpy the uniform actually looks like. Without explaining or spelling out Lucy’s feelings, playwright Camilla Whitehill manages to tell the story in a way that makes the audience empathise very well. It is the small details in what Lucy says that make the show so authentic.
The storytelling itself is very cynical and instead of a fraud-less, kind main character, we see a girl who lacks the means and help to work out her traumas, but who just has to get on with her life. That is a very real approach and unfortunately shows the negligence assault victims experience even today. Whitehill said that she didn’t expect many women in the audience to resonate with what Lucy is going through, when she started writing. However, “The amount of women who have personally connected to this play is too high. There should not be that many women in the relatively small audiences that fringe theatre attracts, knowing exactly what Lucy is going through”.
The sexual assault and rape within the play is handled extremely sensitive, which makes it harder to digest in the end. It is not sensationalised or used as a shocker, but told in few words with the help of physical theatre. Scenes like this one show that there must have been great devising. Jessica Butcher communicates Lucy’s story flawless. I could not imagine a different lead actress after seeing her at the Old Red Lion.
“Where Do Little Birds Go” is a very important play for our time. Even though it is placed in the 60s, the theme is as actual today as ever. If it wasn’t for Lucy’s hairstyle and her dress it could have been a very recent story.