Deborah Brennan’s The Hummingbird Effect is built around a monologue that details how a seemingly random experience in a person’s life can trigger an evolution in the way we perceive our own lives. Such an experience causes ripples to fan out out into our futures and, subsequently, impacts upon the choices and decisions we make in ways that we could not possibly foresee.

For Brennan, her own personal ‘hummingbird effect’ moment, can be traced back to 2015 when, after enduring a series of personal crises which had left her at her lowest ebb, she found herself talking to an ex-corporate banker who was now selling crystals at a psychic healer’s stall at the Port Fairy Folk Festival.

That one conversation has reverberated through the three hectic years since that have seen her move on from being made redundant from her day job, through to being feted at Fringe and music festivals throughout the world.

Her monologue tracks through the evolutionary process she has undergone, and reflects on how her fortunes have taken a turn for the better, helping her to work through the debilitating bout of depression that had descended upon her before this folk festival epiphany.

Deb H Hummingbird

The recount of events is segmented to include a specific selection of songs that counterpoint the action in her narrative. Hence the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb, Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight, The Church’s Under The Milky Way, Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You and, ultimately, David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, in that specific sequence, cleverly provided Brennan with an alternative mode of relaying the arc of her narrative.

The arrangements for these songs were given Brennan’s own individual touch, and whilst these were not always to my taste, I had to applaud her bravery in deconstructing and reworking these well-known modern standards to mirror her state of mind at each stage of the psychological and emotional journey she had been on.

It is not a comfortable show to watch, Brennan’s outpouring of her personal situation is raw and heartfelt, even though she tries to soften it with gentle humour at times, and you are left with the feeling she has not quite yet achieved full emotional rescue as yet.

However, as she sang ‘we can be heroes / just for one day’ you also felt that the spark of optimism is alive and burning, and that the next step of Brennan’s evolution may well bring her the happiness and greater fulfilment she craves.


Rating: 3 stars


The Hummingbird Effect was performed at The Lab, Queen’s Theatre in Playhouse Lane on Wednesday 28 February 2018.


Fringe tix are available from: Adelaide Fringe tickets