(The following review by Colin Murphy appeared October 1.)

Review: Dublin Theatre Festival – The Birds

Gate Theatre

MY two-year-old daughter is obsessed with a children's book about a family going on a bearhunt. She adores it, but freezes with terror each time it's read to her.

'The Birds' is an adult equivalent. Conor McPherson's play, inspired by Daphne du Maurier's iconic short story, is deliciously chilling.

McPherson's staccato scenes have the same effect as the strings on the score of Hitchcock's 'Psycho', which is a similar effect to that of nails being dragged across a blackboard. They are spring-loaded with tension, a tension only very rarely relieved, through comedy, in the entire two hours. The effect is exhausting, but exhilarating.

Beautifully designed by Rae Smith, 'The Birds' takes place entirely in the parlour of an old country home, where two strangers have sought refuge from the onslaught of the birds (Ciaran Hinds and Sinead Cusack, pitch perfect). When a younger woman joins them sometime later (Denise Gough, stunning), the scene is set for a love triangle, but one almost totally stripped of sentiment in this apocalyptic world.

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