Owls Do Cry is not your typical theatrical retelling of a book. Instead, it is a complete reinterpretation of the work through movement, design and song.  

The show starts very light-hearted with a chorus of singing, movement and audience interaction. As the show continues, however, it draws you into the real pain and fragility of the characters of Janet Frame’s literary classic.  

I could not get enough of the beautiful design of this show. The seemingly simple set cleverly used individual hanging mics for each character’s voice and continuously drew us in on each turn through lighting and projection. For example, in the first act, words emerge and disappear across the set as if to tell us there are whispered subtexts everywhere in this show. Then midstory, words appear again, flickering in the backdrop and shapeshifting from ‘other’ to ‘mother’ to ‘bother’ to ‘brother’. In the final scene, the words appear blown across the backdrop by the wind, then clustering on the characters’ bodies like moths to light.

This show isn’t here to tell a story with a concise beginning, middle and end. Instead, it asks you to buckle in and enjoy the experience Red Leap has meticulously curated. By the end, you are left with the many complex feelings and themes of Frame’s poetic writing and the characters she created. The unusual format is even acknowledged when the fourth wall is broken, and the audience is asked Where is the plot, story arc, the full stops?

I was entranced by countless stunning moments. One incredible scene involving a jumper that stretched, multiplied and wove the characters into a co-dependant tapestry. Another used light to fragment and then slice Daphne in a crucificial manner. 

Red Leap describes the work as a multi-disciplinary dreamscape’, and I think this is very apt. I highly recommend all those who love art that transports and leaves them with plenty to think about, to go along to Red Leaps Theatre’s contemporary response to ‘Owls Do Cry.’