Review: The Birds & The Bees

The Birds and the Bees is a metaphorical story told to children to explain sex. Mark Crawford’s play The Birds and the Bees at the New Wolsey meanwhile is an out and out sex-romp! Be prepared for explicit humour and bare flesh…. All presented in the best possible taste.

Originally a Canadian play The New Wolsey partners with Norwich Theatre, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and John Stalker Productions for a tour, which will mark the first professional UK production of any version of the play.

The Canadian setting has been adapted to now set Gail’s farm in East Anglia and director Peter Rowe has worked with James McDermott to give it a local flavour and even update it with some recent news references. 

Gail’s (Louise Gold) honeybees are dying much like her love life did when her husband left twenty years previously.

Her middle-aged daughter Sarah (Laura Doddington) has a marriage which comes to an abrupt end which means that the daughter is forced to move back with mum. However the mother-daughter relationship is a little fraught. 

Then there’s neighbour Earl (Sion Tudor Owen) who farms part of Gail’s land afraid to commit he’s looking for a no strings relationship.

Enter bio-student Ben (Richard McIver) to study the poorly performing bees. He could probably also have a look at Sarah’s turkeys, which can’t seem to mate without a human helping hand. Perhaps some local mead and the annual Turkey Day’s Dance will sort everything out – and not just for the birds.

As the consequences of that momentous night unfold Sarah, Gail, Earl and Ben discover the best way out of a crisis is to commit to those closest to you – just watch out and don’t get stung – and if you do make sure you get the sting out!

The audience was laughing along from start to end in this really great but gently played production. It’s not all laughs though as there are some darker moments too.

The Birds and the Bees is a laugh-out-loud comedy that proves sex can be funny without being smutty. 

The production also marks the final show for Peter Rowe as Artistic Director as he and Sarah Holmes (Chief Exec) leave in June. He will however return to help with some future productions.

Runs at New Wolsey until Saturday 9th April and then touring. 

New Wolsey Ipswich –
Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds –
Norwich Theatre –

Review: Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine
Picture: Mike Kwasniak