Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bird House (KNF Co.)

By Molly

an imaginative story • existential and thought-provoking • very artistically presented • puppets • cool set design and projection design that meshes two contrasting worlds

Christina Shipp and Cotton Wright in Bird House.

BOTTOM LINE: A fairytale fantasy world about growing up (with puppets).

I'm sorry I'm writing this review a little late, because it gives you less time to see Bird House, a captivating new play by Kate Marks currently running at Theatre 3. The short 12 performance run concludes Sunday, July 26th. If you have an inkling to see an artsy (but not fartsy) play with an expressive, "downtown" vibe, Bird House might be your perfect fit.

Bird House is the story of Louisy and Syl, two friends of indeterminate age (let's say young adults) who live together in a treehouse. They live on the Bright Side, the part of the world where things are cheery and peaceful. Syl (Christina Shipp) feels restless and decides to go be a hero on the Lop Side, the other side of the world where a war-ravaged society tries to perservere. Louisy (Cotton Wright) is abandoned by her only friend, and through her lonliness must resume her life and move on.

Bird House is a warped fairy tale, kind of like the Mad Hatter's teaparty. It's sort of nonsensical. It's sort of light and fun. But there's a layer of something darker and unsettling resting underneath. Although it's a story about youthfulness, it's probably not for kids. There are moments of humor to be sure, but there is something deep and poignant at its core.

Marks' script is enthralling. The way she arranges her words and creates these characters is meticulously stylized. She writes in an almost poetic way, where the words themselves are important, not just what is being said. And the world she's created is something unique in and of itself; although little is ever explicitly defined and the audience must interpret the play in their own way, the stylistic vocabulary is undeniably marvelous. It's easy to dive right in to the tale.

Heidi Handelsman's direction keeps the contrast between the Bright Side and the Lop Side crystal clear. Capable actors and puppeteers draw the audience in deeper. Sets, lighting and projections (Sara C. Walsh, Rebecca M. K. Makus and Alex Kock, respectively) keep the audience glued to the story. For a new play off-off-Broadway, I am extremely impressed by the professionalism of the production.

I wish Bird House offered a little more distinction into what was happening specifically, rather than being so open-ended and up for interpretation. Its existentialism was exciting to experience during the show, but I would've liked a little more closure at the end. It's always nice to feel like you've shared a theatrical experience with your fellow audience members rather than being isolated in your own mind. But that is a minor complaint compared to the solid production value and magical story that Bird House has to offer. I'm definitely excited to see what's next from both Marks and producers KNF Co.

(Bird House plays at Theatre 3, 311 West 43rd Street, 3rd Floor. Performances run through Sunday, July 25th: Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at or by calling 212.352.3101. For more show info visit

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