REVIEW: Little Birds combines colonial decadence and sexual exploration in heady mix

ON TARGET: Juno Temple plays the repressed Lucy Savage in Little Birds.
ON TARGET: Juno Temple plays the repressed Lucy Savage in Little Birds.

IF new British TV drama Little Birds is to believed, the wealthy neighbourhoods of 1950s Tangier were one of the most exciting and exotic places on earth.

Any talk of conservative '50s is non-existent in this six-part series based on Cuban-American writer Anais Nin's posthumous erotic feminist fiction. It's decadent, tantalising and brimming with sexual tension.

English actress Juno Temple (Dirty John, Atonement, and pictured) plays Lucy Savage, the daughter of a wealthy New York arms dealer who travels to the Moroccan city to marry her British aristocratic beau Hugo Cavendish-Smyth played by Hugh Skinner (Fleabag, Harlots).

It turns out her marriage was arranged by her father as a means of extending his business interests into Africa.

Lucy finds Hugo is uninterested in her sexual advances as he's hiding his own secret male lover. However, Lucy finds an outlet for her repressed sexuality in the world of hedonistic high-society parties where she encounters Moroccan prostitute and dominatrix, Cherifa Lamour, played by Yumna Marwan (The Translator, One Of These Days).

Marwan's Cherifa is the perfect contrast to the naive Lucy. While Lucy spends the majority of the first two episodes looking wide-eyed and biting her bottom lip constantly as if suppressing her urges, there is no road-block for Cherifa.

She's street-smart and angry with a mouth full of grill jewellery.

Lucy's sexual awakening is occurring just as Morocco is undergoing its own political upheaval. The French are furiously attempting to maintain control of the country while the push for independence and return of the King, Mohammed V, is gathering momentum.

Little Birds is a beautifully-shot period drama that is a subversive exploration of feminine sexuality in a world and time frame usually associated with conservatism and moralistic outrage. This bird flies a different course.

Little Birds streams on Stan from August 5.

This story Little Birds opens its wings to exotic sexual awakening first appeared on Newcastle Herald.