Fringe Review: Jail Birds

Words by Lochy Maybury

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a bunch of private school girls went to a youth correctional facility… look, I’m not gonna say they’re ALL going to choreograph song and dance routines to Florence and the Machine, but some of them are definitely going to choreograph song and dance routines to Florence and the Machine.

Jail Birds is a musical that tracks the lives of inmates in a women’s correctional facility, slowly revealing to us through monologue and song more about the characters backstory.

Performance-wise, it was a mixed bag with a cast of vastly different experience levels; some trained, professional actors and some straight out of high school. Kate McNaughton as Shelly Da Marco is by far the standout. A single mum incarcerated for theft and credit card fraud, a crime committed in order to provide for her child, she provides a much-needed grounding of the piece.

The show is clearly tailored for a teenage female audience with a strong feminist message that, although heavy-handed, should be applauded considering its target demographic.

Some drawbacks were purely technical; the stage felt a little too deep to create a claustrophobic atmosphere and resulted in the audience losing some of the dialogue.  The monologues and songs were disjointed from the plot and felt ‘bitsy’. The major problem however, lies in the fact that a supposedly original work consists of entire plot lines and characters lifted directly from Orange is the New Black. A cheeky homage is one thing, but this feels like plagiarism.

That being said, this show contains possibly the only time you’ll hear the song 'Hollaback Girl' and think ‘yes, this is the perfect song for this moment’.

Tix and info: Jail Birds at Wilderness School