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The Last Cuckoo

The Last Cuckoo


“I never felt passionate about birds. And then…. I drove down here last night and a Barn Owl flew across my windscreen like a sift of wind through oatmeal, like a flaw in the glass. And I stopped and turned off the engine and listened. Nothing. Just the car ticking with heat. And then I heard them. The owls. Calling. The definition of night. They were there. It was good.”

On his return from his uncle’s funeral, Duncan Campbell begins the slow, sad process of working through his effects; but as he does so he finds within the ghostly confines of this remote coastal cottage the way into a world he never knew existed – the entrance into a life he never dared hope for; but this awareness brings with it costly choices and, most daunting of all, the possibility of real change.

“The Last Cuckoo” is an enchanting and hilarious play whose central character, Harry Baskerville, is a genuine eccentric - an irascible, unpredictable and engaging ornithologist with fantastic ruminations on hatching swallows, stained glass, fish pie, crocheted toilet roll covers and Rupert Bear. He gives voice to an eloquent, moving and comical celebration of the natural world  - but especially that of the birds.

“Ah! No-one understood it was what I wanted!”, muses Harry as he settles back into the ease and comfort of his bachelor kingdom. “A book of verse, a glass of wine, a pair of binoculars, enough to live on and no homework! Above all, the chance to stop, look and listen. Listen to a blackbird in a hawthorn hedge as dusk laps in like a high tide and the moon crawls up the sky like a cheese in a nursery rhyme… open your eyes, let the world in.”

But this play is no sentimental, ecological apologia, for after Harry’s death it is left to his nephew to reflect on not just a life but a whole way of being that is fast disappearing. Beneath the glittering surface of the natural world that has such an allure is a disturbing pulse that grows ever more insistent.