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THE BIRDS presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through Nov. 8. Click here for more information on the production.
Conor McPherson’s version of THE BIRDS begins with the characters of Diane and Nat having recently met. Together these strangers take shelter inside a lakeside cabin from the the legions of birds that are attacking and killing the human race.
The opening scene does a good job of creating a barely-safe haven from the outside threat. As the show progressives and moves more into a character study, the danger from outside becomes less of an issue. Even when a drunk Nat opens the shuttered window to scream at the birds, it has no consequence. Since the bird attacks come and go with the tide, the wide open windows and door display a sense of security that lessens the threat from other roaming survivors. The tension and sense of imposing danger isn’t sustained. Also, the opening/closing of the door and three sets of shutters, by the cast, between scenes, tends to interrupt the flow of the show and sap some of the energy established in the previous scene. In researching the play, I found this complaint echoed in reviews of other productions.
Brent Vimtrup as Nat had a tendency to push the emotion a bit too much, especially at the beginning of the play. Pulling it back a bit might make it feel a bit more natural.
I didn’t get a good sense of the emotional dynamics between Diane (Sherman Fracher), Nat (Vimtrup) and Julia (Sara Clark). The reveals came as a shock because I wasn’t getting the growing attachments in the performances.
The scene between Tierney (Nicholas Rose) and Diane was very….odd. Rose’s costume looked like a homemade version of Mad Max with a very bad wig. I found the accent and acting choices strange and couldn’t figure out his character’s motivations. Tierney wasn’t scary or intimidating, but came across as drug-riddled and confused ala Ozzy Osbourne.
I also think part of the problem, for me, is that I’m a fan of THE WALKING DEAD. Most of the themes that McPherson explores in his script have played out over their five seasons. It didn’t really cover any new territory for me. And let’s face it, the character of Diane has nothing on Carol. 🙂
The reputation of Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS greatly influenced my expectations for the show, but I’ve never seen the the movie itself. I was expecting a thriller for the Halloween season, but on opening night, this production didn’t sustain the thrill for me.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
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