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.