Road Theatre’s ‘Birder’ needs to be seen

Review by John K. Adams

What causes that nagging emptiness that so many feel entering middle age? Playwright Julie Marie Myatt suggests some answers in Birder, her meditation on the loss of innocence, freedom and efforts to reclaim them.

Roger and Joyce, husband and wife, charge ever forward like wind-up toys until, stuck against a wall, they must consider their spring is not enough.

Roger, a perpetual child, sloughs off making money to watch birds. He envies their freedom and uncanny ability to see into his soul. He loves the ineffable spirit that birds represent.

Joyce is oblivious to the practical as long as the gifts just keep on giving. Only when they abruptly stop, does she wonder about the source.

The first couple discover they have wandered beyond the gates of paradise. They realize something has changed, but don’t know exactly what. Where’s Daddy?

The play points to this gap in our lives but lets the characters and audience divine its shape. Is there life after selfishness? Roger says he needs to be seen, but does he see?

The scenes float by as effortlessly and weightless as eiderdown until their cumulative impact is felt.

The director, Dan Bonnell, and the cast, which includes Chet Grissom, Webster Williams, Laurie Okin, Monique Marie Gelineau and Crash Buist, inhabit Myatt’s words in such a naturalistic and understated fashion that one could forget it is a play and imagine eaves-dropping on a conversation anywhere, even at home.

The sets are simple and evocative.

“Birder” is staged through June 19th at The Road Theatre located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. Call (818) 761-8838 or visit them online at RoadTheatre.org.

This review originally appeared in the Tolucan Times on May 11th, 2016.

Philosophical ‘Leather Apron Club’ asks you to wake up

Review by John K. Adams

What if you could join a secret society dedicated to guiding the country as a form of “political Santa Claus?” Would you do it?

What if that greater good you seek required the murder of a dear friend? But all for the greater good. Why not do that?

The Leather Apron Club asks its characters, and asks us all, these questions with the relentless beat of a march.

Set in the aftermath of 9/11, the play makes the lure of immediate action over thoughtful consideration easy to understand. Enough debate. Act now! Laws just get in the way!

When leading journalist James Avery is invited to join the Leather Apron Club, a secret society devoted to pulling strings in world events, it is a dazzling opportunity. He could implement his pet projects. He could save the world!

But when, to prove his loyalty, he is required to murder his mentor, Avery seeks compromise. What price expediency? My ends justify the means. Not yours.

Doesn’t everyone amass and wield power as effectively and with as little interference as possible? Why not? Writer/director Charlie Mount’s script deftly explores how individuals answer and what their answers mean, both personally and socially.

His excellent cast reveals the nuances, shifting loyalties and each facet of the debate with complex performances. The contemporary, cultural references are timeless.

Wake up!

“The Leather Apron Club” is staged through May 15th at Theatre West located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West (near Universal Studios Hollywood) in Los Angeles. Call (323) 851-7977 or visit TheatreWest.org for tickets.  

This review appeared originally in the Tolucan Times on May 2, 20016.