Friday, May 11, 2018

Review of Birds of a Feather at Greenhouse Theater Center

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Birds of a Feather. It was by Marc Acito and it was directed by Jacob Harvey. The movement was by Nick Thornton. It was about two penguins, Silo (Aaron Kirby) and Roy (Paul Michael Thomson), at the Central Park Zoo, and they were a same-sex couple and received an egg to hatch and raise. There was quite a bit of controversy around them. It is also about the story of two other local birds, Pale Male (Thomson) and Lola (Kirby), who were red-tailed hawks who nest in the building where Paula Zahn (Marika Mashburn) and Richard Cohen (Abu Ansari) live. They are seen as celebrities by some and a nuisance by others. It is about love, acceptance, and identity. I think this is a really funny, heartwarming, and surprisingly heartbreaking show.

The relationship between the penguins Silo and Roy was so adorable. I loved how they played off each other. At the beginning of the play you were just thinking about how much they were penguins because of their stylized movement and because of all the bird puns. I did really enjoy the puns, and the movement was really funny. The ways they would interact with each other were very penguinesque. At the very beginning of the show, Silo flaps onstage and starts shaking his feathers, which was sort of the first sign that, "oh, these are penguins." They also had a mating call, which they bonded over, but instead of being a squawk, for them it is "Defying Gravity" from Wicked, which is perfect for penguins, especially ones that see themselves as rebels. By the end of the show, you see them more like people with relationship troubles, identity crises, and emotions. They are still penguins, but just humanized penguins.

I thought the hawks, Lola and Pale Male, were sometimes infuriating because of Pale Male's unabashed homophobia, but most of the time they were hilarious. Lola had a very strong New York accent, and Pale Male thinks everyone who takes a picture of him is a fan. He thinks he is a superstar basically, and it seems like he is jealous of Roy and Silo because they are also getting a lot of attention. He is toxic masculinity in a hawk. Lola and Pale Male have a sex-based relationship and it is very funny to see two hawks having a torrid love affair. I was really impressed by how quickly and seamlessly the actors switched between characters. Silo is so brooding and Lola is so peppy. Roy is into musical theater and is very expressive and empathetic and Pale Male is hyper-masculine and is not very considerate of other people's feeling. It is really fun to see the actors do both sets of roles.

I really loved the Birder (Ansari) and the Zookeeper (Mashburn) who both had several monologues throughout the show. They both loved watching Pale Male and Lola and Roy and Silo. I loved how the play reveals their similarities throughout the show. I really liked how open they were with the audience and how much we got to know about their personal lives not related to the birds. It helps show you how the birds and the people in this play aren't so different because they both deal with some of the same feelings: loneliness, uncertainty, and fascination with things unlike them.

The ending was really powerful for me, and if you have already seen the show you can read what I thought about it at Ada Grey Spoils It for You.

People who would like this show are people who like toxic masculinity hawks, humanized penguins, and show tune mating calls. I think people should definitely see this show. It is so well-acted, hilarious, and moving. I really loved it.

Photos: Liz Lauren

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