Running September 28 through October 20, Friday & Saturday 8pm, Sunday 3pm (Sunday Oct. 7 & 14 only)
Theatre 68, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
Sam Henry Kass appears to be establishing himself as Theatre 68’s favorite playwright.
A young woman is searching for her birth mother, a mother who abandoned her as a baby at the zoo beside the Macaws exhibit, hence the title of the play. This search has become a quest to find not only where she came from and who she is but why she was left behind. We all have inherited traits, things passed down from our parents we didn’t even ask for. How we walk, why we smile or how we pronounce endive. If we grow up without our biological family, what are the chances we will have anything in common if we ever meet them and is it the cruelest of jokes that we might be exactly alike in spite of it all? It’s not just the cute stuff that gets passed down though, what about our darkness and our despair and our self sabotage?
Cast (L-R): Hansford Prince and Deborah Geffner
This young woman has not had the sweetest of lives, but it wasn’t terrible. Living in the midwest with kind but distant parents, she leads an unremarkable life in an unremarkable place. She knew of her story of abandonment, however, so how then can we blame her for her anger and her resentment and the need to find her mother and demand a “why?”
After some searching, she finally does find her…on a bench in a park in New York, feeding the pigeons. The daughter is angry, the mother is defensive and unrepentant, and the stage is set.
This meeting has been a long time coming so, of course, it’s all very absurd and surreal, which I am quite sure is just how this kind of meeting would play out in real life. But this is a play and it is a play by Sam Henry Kass, so a lot of stranger than real things begin to seemingly spontaneously occur. The mother refers to herself as if they are in an actual play and breaks the 4th wall with abandon. As the daughter becomes more and more irate her mother, in a bid to explain her terrible act and share a little of her guilt, introduces us all to a random male actor who she brings onstage to perform the role of various paternal possibilities, i.e. the men she was sleeping with at the time of conception.
To add to the often hilarious magical realism an actress suddenly appears who has apparently been working the box office for the show and is tired of not being on stage. She happily plays various parts in the mother’s “staging” of the moments in her life that have brought them all to this perilous point. Young daughter, young mother, etc., it all works very, very well.
Cast (L-R): Deborah Geffner, Mercedes Manning and Julia Valentine Larson
“A Flock of Macaws” is a play within a play within a monumentally stressful and potentially disastrous moment in two lives where everything either of them has ever done has lead them up to this point.
Add to this the writer’s biting wit and his brilliant ability to bring our present waking nightmare of political scandal into to every single argument and you have this very funny, slightly strange and poignantly lyrical play. The mother is relentless and abrasive but also deeply effected by this young women’s pain. The daughter is angry yes, but I felt her longing for her mother in every single line and saw it in every defensive glance. Both these actresses connected so beautifully, their relationship seemed real and burgeoning and heartfelt. Everyone is excellent actually. The roles of the actor and actress are really brilliantly and playfully performed.
Somehow all this odd behavior and these curious and questionable characters makes perfect sense when seen through the lens of a mother and daughter’s unrealistic expectations and their longing to belong. There’s a heartbreaking depth of forgiveness and pain that is captured so perfectly by this play. With all the mess and the regrets and the loss and the sorrow, there is also love and joy and completeness all wrapped up in a very wacky world.
I love the way Sam Henry Kass writes. He is brutal and poetic and bold, but the pain is always laced with love…which is what makes it real.
I highly recommend “A Flock of Macaws” at Theatre 68. Ronnie Marmo directs with quiet deftness and fearless abandon, believing in the words and the power of his actors. Bravo!!
“A Flock of Macaws” is only on for a few weeks so don’t hang about and get your tickets while you can!!
Julia Valentine Larson
Playwright Sam Henry Kass
Director Ronnie Marmo
Producer Theatre 68
Publicist – Sandra Kuker PR