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The King of All Birds review: Moments of visual and oral storytelling make this play one to remember

Dublin Fringe Festival 2023: This show feels like a history of Ireland but also a heartfelt ode to a fading country

The King of All Birds

Cube, Project Arts Centre

“I’m going to tell you a few stories today,” a solitary figure in a long dark cloak and a bird’s beak says to the crowd. Our protagonist (Martha Knight) opens a thick, old book and introduces us to a world where birds, which long enjoyed the skies as their unchallenged domain, select a king.

In this one-woman show Knight tells us of a wren who was once king but was killed by Norman settlers and, later, of a pagan bird king who watched as humans reached for the skies to challenge his dominance.

Throughout the play Knight sings Wild Mountain Thyme (AKA Will Ye Go Lassie Go) alongside all sorts of instruments. Her soft voice brings a quiet sadness to the tune, and as she chronicles the evolution of human ambition her renditions mirror this, first unaccompanied and later on with a guitar, a flute and a vocoder. Her use of the latter builds tension as we learn the fate of the late king.

The King of All Birds is a curious play. It feels in one part a history of Ireland but also a heartfelt ode to a country fading into the history books. Knight’s quirky humour goes down well with the audience, who return a considered ovation.


While at times Knight meanders as she tells her tales, there are moments of visual and oral storytelling that make this play one to remember. When you leave the theatre and look up at the sky, it will have you imagining all sorts of stories playing out above our heads.

Continues at Project Arts Centre, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival, until Saturday, September 16th

Conor Capplis

Conor Capplis

Conor Capplis is a journalist with the Irish Times Group