BWW Review: A FLOCK OF MACAWS WITH FLYING THE COOP A MAJOR THEME at Theatre 68

BWW Review: A FLOCK OF MACAWS WITH FLYING THE COOP A MAJOR THEME at Theatre 68

A clever, funny, unique, surprising, prolific, abundantly verbiaged and delightful play, with all-in for the ride actors playing their parts to the hilt. Written by Sam Henry Kass and Directed by Ronnie Marmo, the tightly polished performances never miss a beat, with good timing and delivery on the comedic moments (there were many) and ample depth in the serious moments.

The players, the latter two playing copious parts, are Deborah Geffner as the Mother, Mercedes Manning, the Daughter, Hansford Prince, the Actor, and Julia Valentine Larsons as the Actress. The entire cast embodied each role with aplomb. And what crazy characters they are!

The song "Am I Blue" begins to play in a blackout. Slowly, lights come up on a sparse set: a bench, center stage, with a high chain-link fence behind it. A girl with a backpack on appears (Mercedes Manning) and begins a monologue telling us she is searching ~ searching for answers, for a place she's not sure of, a mother she doesn't remember, that abandoned her at a zoo (between the gorillas & the macaw cages) when she was a toddler... she is sharing her pain, her despair and emptiness; she is on a mission!

Enter what looks like a bag lady (Debra Geffner), throwing something out of a paper bag, like she might be feeding some pigeons, and her actions depict someone who has lost some of her marbles. As they start interacting, she suddenly blurts out "I have zero memory of having you" which leads to a crazy scene where the daughter shows her a birth certificate, attempting to prove who she is, only to hear since there is no picture, and it states she is only 6 lbs., it can't really be her daughter, and demands to see photo ID. They argue back and forth until the daughter pulls a gun on her in desperation, claiming her deep abandonment issues drove her to it. Then the question, "Are you my Mom?" BWW Review: A FLOCK OF MACAWS WITH FLYING THE COOP A MAJOR THEME at Theatre 68

Now begins a series of asides and machinations the mother dreams up, with totally off-the-cuff rambling, on and on, until the daughter shoves the gun into her own mouth, at her wit's end. More arguing and banter back and forth between them, with such cleverly written dialogue, you have no choice but to hang on every word, either laughing at their barbs to each other, or feeling the inner struggles both characters are voicing.

With the mother's question "Do you know your Dad?," this is where we completely break from reality and go into their minds, as Mom suggests trying out her possible ideas of who he could be, as if in a play or audition.

BWW Review: A FLOCK OF MACAWS WITH FLYING THE COOP A MAJOR THEME at Theatre 68A series of would-be candidates come forth, one-by-one, the most outrageously funny characters that are dreamed up by Mom, all played fantastically by Hansford Prince. First, a blind black man, played with great comedy flair and much physicality; then a death-row convict in an orange jumpsuit who blatantly flirts with Mom, who willingly reciprocates; then portraying the daughter's step-dad who adopted her in Idaho; next, a character named "Earnest Doubt," who is a subpoena server, carrying a suitcase full of them, trying to find the correct one to serve Mom (whose last name we find out is Simpson), going through many that don't pan out, such as O.J. Simpson's, Ashford Simpson's, etc. All the while, Mom is madly flirting with this guy, throwing out hysterical one-liners, totally off "script," with references to obscure celebrities and whacky situations. The final one pulled out seems to be a death certificate, and then there is mention of it being paperwork from a sperm bank where he once donated. BWW Review: A FLOCK OF MACAWS WITH FLYING THE COOP A MAJOR THEME at Theatre 68

A bit of Theatre of the Absurd at this point, but thoroughly entertaining and fun to watch played out.

Interspersed between the husband candidates, the actress, played by chameleon-like and versatilely by Julia Valentine Larsons, "stands in" playing the step-mother that adopted the daughter; also playing the daughter in another scene; an actress who wanders onto the stage in the play within a play and refuses to exit, demanding her key-light and the right to do her own monologue; and the girlfriend, Patty, of the daughter when they went to prom together in Idaho, coming out as a couple, but two weeks later committed suicide, revealing another reason the daughter is so in need of finding her mother, craving love and acceptance.

After more accusations hurled back and forth between the characters, some comedic, some very cutting and to the point, the Mother sits quietly on the bench, coiled up and trying to hide within herself, feeling very ashamed and defeated, and states that she "wrote a letter but never sent it." Now there is just her daughter and she, left alone together, and she begins to sob. Taking out the letter that she obviously has had with her all the time, she reads it aloud, to her daughter. It is very self-deprecating and sorrowful. Regretful and ashamed, she closes with, "I am proud of what you have become, and sorry I wasn't there to love you. Live your life to the fullest and redefine your footwork; I will watch from afar. I I love you with all my damaged soul; it's all I have. Mom."

She quietly folds up the letter as the two sit together in silence, as the lights fade and "Am I Blue," plays again in the background.

Advertised as an Homage to Survivors, FLOCK OF MACAWS plays through October 20th, at Theatre 68, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA. 91601. Only 7 more performances. Tickets on sale @ www.Theatre68.com.

Don't miss this witty, original and inventive play, where you will go through a full variety of emotions with the characters and come away with empathy and maybe learning a little more about yourself in the process.

Photos courtesy of Christine Pietz and Theatre 68

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