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Miz Wells (on trapeze) and Catherine Ben Abbs play the two sides to Suzanna Raine’s character in Sparkly Bird

Front row seats for Sparkly Bird show

Kat Lee-Ryan is one of Hastings’ shiniest, sharpest living treasures – throughout lockdown she broadcast a nightly show of lullabies from her home studio, she is half of Kat Dog and the driving force behind big band The Fabulous Red Diesel. She is also the creator of the wonderful musical Sparkly Bird, part of this year’s Brighton Fringe festival which launches this week. Erica Smith sings the praises of this amazing show which explores the flying highs and deadly lows of a young woman at odds with her mental health.

Kat Lee Ryan

Kat says: “The show tells the true story of the suicide of my sister, Suzanna Raine. The songs document her descent into mental illness, her subsequent death, and the effect it had on the surviving family. An aerialist (Miz Wells) and a dancer (Catherine Ben Abbes) portray the two sides of her personality, the bright sunny side and the depressive side.”

I admit to Kat that the thought of watching a show about suicide isn’t tempting. She reassures me: “It is the most incredible emotional roller coaster ride, but at the end you will feel uplifted and hopeful.”

Mental health campaigner Sharon Rhodes agrees: “The show is a massive emotional journey – the music is amazing and it’s really thought-provoking. It raises awareness of the signs that someone might have undiagnosed mental health issues. It can encourage people to seek help.”

The Sparkly Bird house band are Red Diesel

Audience member Philippa Lucy adds: “This is an emotional and courageous piece that takes you through the terrible pain of untimely death by suicide. The grief process is explicit but in no way indulgently morbid and the audience are taken along with Kat on her journey to a place of resolution. The band are extremely talented musicians, Kat is a wonderful songwriter and all of the performances were engaging. It is an important piece of work about grief and suicide that could bring solace to others who have struggled with loss.”

The set was specially built for the show, and it was shot live at Bad Times Studio in Rye. The filming was funded by Brighton Police Community fund and Brighton Pride. Kat says: “We are so proud of the film. It was shot by a talented young cameraman from Fairlight called Jakk Roud who also shot ‘Nellie Gale’ and ‘Birdie’”.

From noon tomorrow (Thursday 27 May), you can watch Sparkly Bird from the comfort of your own sofa as part of The Brighton Fringe. The show will remain available to live-stream for the following month.
You can get your ticket by following this link.

You can find out more about Sparkly Bird here. Later this year there will be two opportunities to see the show for free as an outdoor live performance – on 14 August at Broomgrove estate and 11 September on the Stade Open Space as part of Coastal Currents.

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Posted 19:42 Wednesday, May 26, 2021 In: Arts News

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