Astonishing theatre group with a new comedy thriller for summer

The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company is a contemporary commedia dell'arte company working with communities right across the South of England in a carnivalesque tradition that goes back thousands of years.

Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 9:48 am
Rude Mechanical Theatre Co with Macbyrd

The inventive group, based in Eastbourne, tours annually with brand new stories - making people laugh, moving them and being provocative – and have a fanatical following of over 7,000 people who keep coming back.

This year the offering is Macbyrd, a comedy thriller - and sixteen of the characters are birds... Don’t miss Inspector Seed, a pigeon, as the detective. It is set in 1940 and is about changes to a small village in rural Sussex, Jevington, brought about by threat of invasion, its impact on the local WI, the cricket club, the village play, and on relationships, and on how with war people take on new roles.

There are two stories which link together. Up above there is a power struggle among the birds and the swan, symbol of a certain kind of traditional Englishness and social structure, is murdered by the upstart raven, Macbyrd, who resents the swan’s snobbish disregard for the poor, the sparrows.

Pete Talbot, writer and director, said: “There are, it has to be admitted, a few echoes of a certain Shakespeare play. Macbyrd is told by the ‘gypsy magpies’ that his time has come, that ‘sleek birds, black against the sky’ will rule. In fact change to the village is because a momentous event is going to happen – and I’m not going to tell you what!

“Here’s the serious bit. In the same way that Hitler represented a threat to our values, so too in people’s perceptions do other things today. How do we deal with those ‘threats’ and what indeed do our values really consist of and how should we adapt in the face of change? Inevitably base instincts like prejudice surface. In this cauldron of change the play explores the values of ordinariness (the heroism of living an ‘ordinary’ life as part of a community), leadership, love and adaptivity that remain constants in difficult times. The comedy is partly in the absurdity of the birds’ world, but also – and it is a comedy of manners – in the ways of ‘country folk’. So there’s a bit of Foyle’s War about it and a bit of ‘The Archers’ – plus quite a bit of The Rudes, too.”

Performances at; Crouch Gardens, Seaford – Sat June 11; East Dean Recreation Ground – Weds June 15; Ditchling Village Green – Weds June 29; Filching Manor, Polegate – Weds July 6; The Green, Plumpton Green – Thurs July 7; The Italian Gardens, Eastbourne – Sun July 10; Little Horsted Primary School field – Tues July 12; Barcombe Village Hall field – Thurs July 21; Southover Grange Gardens, Lewes – Sat July 23 & Sun July 24; Ringmer Village Green – Thurs July 28; The Tye, Alfriston – Weds Aug 3.

Picnics are from 6pm. Bring your own low backed chairs and warm clothing. Tickets £15 plus concessions are available on 01323-501260 or online at