Marie-Lais Emond
2 minute read
21 Jun 2014
11:00 am

Other Side of the City: Wing-a-ding-ding

Marie-Lais Emond

The stage is in the amphitheatre of the Montecasino Bird Gardens.

Picture: Pawel Kot

To reach it, we pass the Flamingo Café, to be revisited. By 3pm we are seated looking down on the Flight of Fantasy set of tree stumps, up-ended wine barrels covered with green baize, an artificial pond and a backdrop of – yup – painted birds. The Italianate frippery is represented by a campanile and this façade that fronts the bird corps de performance.

Music thrums: “I like birds”. I admit I am excited.

Ryan and Kaygan take their placeson stage in bird ranger khakis. Their repartee is cheesy, but intended for kiddies.

A surprisingly breezy whoosh of lurid wings and strings from the sound system and a parakeet swoops low over us, wheeling gaudily to return to a green topped barrel. I’m goose-bumped.

Picture: Pawel Kot

Picture: Pawel Kot

The birds are ever more lovely as 40 minutes is taken up by a sequence of untethered feathered characters presenting themselves to music. I thrill to the open-winged blue crane skip-hopping to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Even when the white pelican waterskis across the pond I remain agog. The Eastern Eagle Owl glides in from the tower to a kitsch waltz and I applaud, tingling.

When the avian theatrics are over, people have photographs taken with the owl or the falcon. A group of sikhs pay up and another young bird-ranger obligingly lies on her back in front of them, one arm raised with the falcon on it so the bird fits into the picture of the turbaned group.

Picture: Pawel Kot

Picture: Pawel Kot

How can the Flamingo Café compete? I don’t expect my spinach feta quiche to be as masterful as anything I’ve just seen. In view now are distinct clusters of pink and Caribbean coral-coloured flamingos, feeding from purple dishes of whiffy pellets. The show is over and I’m still waiting for something more than meringued coffee. But these are tableau birds holding-one legged poses, not actors or dancers.

Flight of Fantasy, Montecasino Bird Gardens, Fourways, Johannesburg.

  •  Tel: 011-511-1864.
  •  Shows at 11am and 3pm
  •  Entrance R58 and R33 for children under 10.

 Each week Marie-Lais Emond scouts another urban reach, tasting, testing alternative aspects to pique our curiosity about places and people we might have had no idea about.