Macbyrd deals with the relationship between middle class conventional society and ‘the outsiders’ who apparently threaten our values. The magpies are the edgy ‘in-betweeners’ who stoke the conflict.
This theme is taken up in both stories, that of the ‘oomans and the birds. In the case of the ‘ooman story it is the real upstart Hitler who threatens the settled life of the village, but also the perceived threat of gypsies, fifth columnists and black marketers. Among the birds it is the working class upstart raven, Macbyrd, who challenges and destroys the swan, symbol of the monarchy and the moneyed classes, the threat of dispossessed ‘rising up’, but also ‘foreigners’ in the form if the Indian bush lark.
Change is the problem, or perceived change; we don’t want our settled order to be messed with by ‘outsiders’. How do we deal with it? Is it good or evil? Commedia has always been about the struggle between the powerful and the dispossessed.