Sam Henry Kass has written a bold new play and his friend Ronnie Marmo has directed it for its World Premiere in Los Angeles. A story of loss and longing, the play features hilarious dialogue, absurd plot twists, and superb acting. It might be classified as “a poignant comedy.”
The play is called “A Flock of Macaws”, for some inexplicable reason apparently known only to Kass. It might relate to the fact that these beautiful “New World parrots” lead an exemplary life, traveling together in groups and always remaining faithful to their mates.
OR it could be because macaws are known to be especially noisy and raucous, much like the characters in this play.
At any rate, as the play opens a young woman (Mercedes Manning) wearing a ponytail and a backpack meanders onto the bleak stage, which is empty except for a single wooden bench. She is deep in the throes of a long and bitter monologue about her mother, who had abandoned her when she was a baby and left her to be brought up by strangers. But although these strangers were kind to her, she admits, she grew up with a sense of rootlessness. And even though she feels that she had been “consumed, baffled, and tortured” by her mother, she still remains anxious to reunite with her. “What is it I could have done to cause this?” she asks herself.
As this nameless young woman continues her monologue, expressing her dismay at the life she hasn’t lived and wondering at the whats and whys of her existence, she becomes aware that a handsome middle-aged woman (Deborah Geffner) now occupies a seat on the wooden bench. She rushes to this older woman crying “Mother!”, only to be rebuffed by the older woman’s denial. “I don’t know you!” the woman exclaims, as the would-be daughter pulls her birth certificate from her backpack. But the older woman refuses to accept this evidence, pointing out that the certificate identifies the young woman as weighing only six pounds, “and I can see for myself that you weigh considerably more than that!” she says.
As they continue to lob hilarious outbursts of indignation at each other, they are suddenly joined by a black man (Hansford Prince) in a blonde wig and a dress who explains that he is there acting as a surrogate for the mother when she was a younger woman. Then another actress (Julia Valentine Larsons) shows up and claims she is there to play the woman when she was a child. Annoyed by these interruptions, the mother exclaims, “But I’ve been promised one more splendid monologue!”
All the while the daughter is badgering the mother to tell her who her father is, or was. The mother says she doesn’t know, “but I could show you some candidates.” Calling her mother a “budding psychopath” the daughter pulls a gun on her. But although the mother is quirky and responds to comments with strange non sequiturs, she isn’t really crazy. It’s very clear, however, that she is definitely a few grapes short of a cluster.
The man in the blonde wig, who had left the stage, returns as a blind man and bumps into a couple of walls, and then again later as a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit, (“no one white wanted to take this role,” he explains) and finally as some sort of official with a subpoena for the mother which he has somehow misplaced. He used to be an actor, he admits, but “I got fired from the Tony Danza show and you can’t get any lower than that!”
“Why didn’t you hire more actors?” the young actress demands, to which the mother replies, “I couldn’t hire 25 actors. Can you imagine all the restaurant schedules they’d have to rearrange?”
And so it goes. No frills, no furniture, and no pretty landscapes projected on the back wall. Just four troubled people coming together to share their concerns and turning in seven helluva fine performances and enough laughs to keep you giggling all the way home.
“A Flock of Macaws” can be enjoyed Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3 through October 20th at Theatre 68, located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. To reserve tickets, go online to www.Theatre68.com.