Conor McPherson's The Birds is based on the short story by Daphne du Maurier. The story also inspired Hitchcock's movie by the same name, but the play and movie share little in common.
The Guthrie Theater is staging The Birds through April 8. While McPherson is known for his great writing (as seen in The Seafarer on The Jungle stage back in 2009), but according to this flock of critics, the characters in his latest production lack depth.
Scroll down to read excerpts from reviews; click on the links to read them in full.
Angela Timberman (Diane) in the American premiere of The Birds at the Guthrie Theater, by Conor McPherson, based upon the Daphne du Maurier short story
Photo by Aaron Fenster
Henry Wishcamper's hokey production comes up short for several reasons. Designer Scott Edwards' layered sound score is overloud and overused. The screechy birds crashing into the house that is one of the last refuges of humanity sound suspiciously like people punching walls... Maybe it was bound to fall short. After all, it's easier for a film to follow a play than the other way around. Still, I held out hope for a better "Birds."
It's hard to connect to a thriller without some sympathy, at least initially, with the characters. This is a particularly unlikeable quartet, meaning that whatever twists and turns happen don't carry enough emotional weight to keep the audience engaged.
I think the production could also amp up the absurdity of everything that's happening. In the same note, McPherson mentions both Pinter and Beckett, and his Birds could have been greatly improved by deploying some of the deft humor found in those playwrights' direst works.
J.C. Cutler (Nat) and Angela Timberman (Diane) in the American premiere of The Birds at the Guthrie Theater, by Conor McPherson, based upon the Daphne du Maurier short story
Photo by Aaron Fenster
The cramped production, atmospheric sound and world-weary acting (the difficult-to-pin-down Hagen and fiery Cutler are especially memorable) give this bleak and compelling play a sick momentum, even if we fear its characters are moving toward nothing. These three strangers were dead before they met each other and they don't need a bunch of birds pecking at their faces to tell them that.
It's in this ability to sustain an anxious tone that The Birds really excels, rather than in its content. McPherson's script is well-constructed and nuanced, but it doesn't ever really get beyond some tried and true hallmarks of horror and science fiction. McPherson does introduce some promising questions about religion and morality into this nature-against-humanity scenario, but unfortunately they remain under-explored yet over-discussed.
Summer Hagen (Julia) in the American premiere of The Birds at the Guthrie Theater, by Conor McPherson
Photo by Aaron Fenster
Stephen Yoakam appears as Tierney, the farmer who lives across the lake. I reviewed Yoakam in The Seafarer, also by Conor McPherson, and once again, I didn't think of him as an actor playing a part, which is the highest compliment I have for an actor. He simply stepped into the scene and it was his. The only disappointment was that he was on stage for such a short time.
Have you seen The Birds at the Guthrie Theater? If so, what did you think?(1 Comments)
Posted at 11:40 AM on March 6, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Media
Today Facebook is a-flutter with news that beloved Twin Cities food writer Dara Moskowitz-Grumdahl is leaving Minnesota Monthly magazine for a position with MSP Communications, publisher of MNMO's rival, Mpls.St.Paul magazine.
MinnPost's David Brauer has the most complete version of the story to date, quoting Grumdahl as saying "I feel like MSP is growing, thinking about growing, and that's sort of where I want to be, in a place going forward."
In addition, Grumdahl posted on her Facebook account:
I've loved a lot of people at MnMo, it was a hard decision, I feel a little like I've been uncovered as a Nazi when I had been entrusted to guard the British nursery school... but I think it will have been the right thing to do.
No word yet on whether or not Grumdahl's new job will have an impact on her appearances on Minnesota Public Radio stations (she's heard regularly in the Twin Cities on both KNOW and 89.3 The Current). Minnesota Monthly and Minnesota Public Radio share the same parent company (American Public Media Group), and Grumdahl's contract with MSP Communications includes a non-compete clause.
Twin Cities music fans are howling over comments made overseas by one of their own.
19 year old Jordan Gatesmith of the Minneapolis band "Howler" was interviewed by the The Guardian, and thanks to the internet, within a day or two his complaints about the Minnesota music scene made their way home.
Howler band members, from left, Brent Mayes, Jordan Gatesmith, France Camp, Ian Nygaard and Max Petrek
Photo courtesy Chris Heidman
So what was Gatesmith's big complaint? Mainly, that Twin Cities "tastemakers" are picking the wrong talent to support (in some cases, over and over again), while more compelling acts are left to fend for themselves. Here's a quote:
Ok, this is so hard, someone is going to hear this I know, but I'm just going to say it. There's this band called the 4onthefloor, for example, and the gimmick is that they play, you know, they have four kick drums, and they all play the kick drum on the floor, and they're like Mumford & Sons crap. I'm sorry. But that will get huge. They'll do like crazy big venues, then everyone will be like, 'Yeah! 4onthefloor is the band to watch! Everyone get ready!' And then, of course, nothing will happen outside of Minneapolis for them. And I think a lot of bands that kind of do the punk rock thing, or kind of the underground thing are the really good acts that will just never see the light of day. So I have a hard time with Minneapolis.
Does Gatesmith have a point?
Well, "Howler" certainly not the only band that's found fame elsewhere first; the band Tapes 'n' Tapes was popular outside of the state for several years before Minnesotans embraced it as a local success story.
On my colleague Andrea Swensson's Local Current Blog, Gatesmith's comments have sparked a conversation about the state of music in the Twin Cities, with some commenters stepping up to support Gatesmith's claims.
Still others took issue with the fact that the 19 year old musician actually cited 4onthefloor, rather than keeping his criticism more general.
While Gatesmith's comments were to a UK reporter, he's made similar remarks here at home. Just a few weeks ago, my colleague Chris Roberts profiled Howler. During the interview Gatesmith joked about Minneapolis being "the city where dreams go to die."