Susan Granger’s review of “The Birds” (59E59 – Theater C: 2016-2017 season)
Movie-goers may remember that Alfred Hitchcock used Daphne du Maurier’s 1952 novella as inspiration for his terrifying 1963 tension-filled classic, starring Tippi Hedren.
Originally produced at Dublin’s Gala Theatre in 2009, Conor McPherson (“The Weir,” “Shining City,” “The Night Alive”) has adapted the concept into a futuristic, apocalyptic world in which marauding flocks of birds have achieved domination over Earth’s creatures.
Amid sounds of beating wings and rasping caws, three survivors seek shelter in an abandoned New England farmhouse with no electricity and little food.
Arriving with a flashlight, Diane (Antoinette La Vecchia) is a novelist who chronicles the avian onslaught in her diary/journal. She’s joined by Nat (Tony Naumovski), who is afflicted by crippling headaches and psychiatrically unstable.
They take in younger, injured Julia (Mia Hutchinson Shaw), who quotes from Ecclesiastes, seduces Nat, becomes pregnant, making a bizarre appearance at the conclusion as a birdlike creature carrying an egg.
There are numerous revelations and confrontations, few of which are particularly insightful or interesting. Which is doubly disappointing because Conor McPherson has previously proven himself capable of revelation and suspense.
The script is completely devoid of humor and the full-frontal male nudity is totally gratuitous.
In the tiny, cramped black-box space of Theater C, it seems that no audience members have an uncompromised view of the stage. So people either twist in their seats or stand up to try to glean what’s happening from moment-to-moment since, obviously, no one has scrutinized the sight-lines.
So it’s difficult to discern why Resident Birdland director Stefan Dzeparoski, set designer Konstantin Roth and video designer David J. Palmer made these peculiar staging choices – that result in 90 minutes of almost complete frustration – with no intermission in which to flee.
In a (mercifully) limited engagement, “The Birds” runs through Sunday, Oct. 2, at 59E59 Theaters.