THERE'S something missing in Three Birds, and it's not just the mother of the young trio fending for themselves.
Despite its shocking subject matter, Janice Okoh's Bruntwood Prize-winning drama about three siblings living alone in a council flat throws up too few surprises to be genuinely gripping.
That's through no fault of the sparky young cast, especially Michaela Coel, who, as the eldest sibling Tiana, trapped in a no-man's land between immaturity and adulthood, builds on the promise displayed in her one-woman show Chewing Gum Dreams.
Unfortunately, the plot is too predictable and the characters lack flesh.
Even when the youngsters resort to fantasy in a bid to escape their tragic predicament, that alternate world - a big house packed with fancy gadgets - is more depressing through its lack of imagination than the one they already occupy.
This pales in comparison with previous Bruntwood winner Vivienne Franzmann's Mogadishu, which was altogether more generous and far-reaching.
That said, the dialogue flows smoothly and while it never quite achieves lift-off, the play doesn't overstay its welcome.