Hymns of a Sparrow
28th May – 27th June
At Brighton’s 2021 Fringe festival ‘Hymns of a sparrow’ turned into a jewel of a play performed with only one participant. He stood bare from the waist up with a very fit looking body and wore a very loose fitting pair of colourful stripy trousers. This wonderfully written act began in African where we were somehow able to translate what was going on from his gestures and tone of voice. He was having big problems with his neighbour’s cows. As we focused on a bird song being played we were given to the character Simlindile singing softly to himself. In his African dialogue he was already in conversation with his neighbour.
As he took our attention he crouched down to perch on a small stool signify his problems also frantically running around trying to herd the pesky cows. After speaking this African act at length he shouted out in English “They are jealous”. Was there more going on that we did not yet know about?
The floor space was huge as he filled it with different characters who debated his cow issues. He became animated when it was needed and quiet and cheerful. We could tell that from his African his seriousness was conveyed in conversations from his eyes and in the expressions on his face. He took one of the pivotal moments, which were around every turn when he screamed to his adversary “Allow me to follow my heart!”
The cows issue started to get entwined as a matter of law. Which he navigated his way around and brought in the characters he needed to solve the matter. The idea of detaining the cows was struck in a bizarre scene as he played an old man with a walking stick. A means of punishment was suggested in the means of detainment of cows which wasn’t fair because the cows were completely innocent. For the farmer became also inflamed about the problem wandering what the fuss was about.
It was a tale we could all recognise even though we are not all farmers but then tragedy struck as mother and daughter were killed in a car collision. So the story changed and took on a whole new meaning with the cow problem yet to be resolved but with the collision there was a new twist of a situation that could not be defused. Our man went mad with grief kicking off and screaming in agony.
The old man then became a spokesman for the people who were horrified by the collision after learning that it was caused by youthful carelessness. And so he arose to condemn the act as “… a horrifying mistake.” That it had never happened before to this community he became enraged and warned his youth that they had become “…way out of hand.” Through his passion we still felt that his strong words were in danger of being ignored and left behind. Back as a young man he transposed to the world for a “…change of community…” and he became an advocate for needed resistance to nation treating other nations without respect even having a belittling treatment that has always been frowned upon.
In this play he reached out to humanity using the situational stories that were wound together through community. And after all he was in a forgiving mood towards us exclaiming quietly in the wholesome words “…we are who we are meant to be…” and with a final act he heard a bell from above and cocked his head to the sound. As he sang quietly with the sparrow song; he was comforted. Because everywhere sparrow songs are the hymns for the morning as the bird’s springs into the day with a new song. An enlivening performance of a brilliant play.
This play had all bases covered in storytelling, physical enterprise, with a journey that all in all felt like a fair play scenario and something given to the correct amount of time. Excluding the harsh lesson of the accident, he played each role in a seamless and remarking performance without a problem and gave it the exultant nudge to harness the story. A show to be sought after well worth having a good look at.
Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly