CharityDramaNew YorkOff-BroadwayReview

Rare Birds – 14th Street Y Theater, New York

Writer: Adam Szymkowicz

Director: Scott Ebersold

Reviewer: Jamie Rosler

It’s not easy to be the strange kid in high school, especially when your bully has a gun and your mom won’t stop imploring you to be “normal.” Such is life for Evan Wills in Adam Szymkowicz’s new play Rare Birds, presented by The Red Fern Theatre Company with proceeds donated to the End to Cyber Bullying Organization.

Evan (Jake Glassman) has a crush on Jenny (Joanna Fanizza), and when his bullies Dylan (George Colligan) and Mike (Dylan Guerra) find out, they send him text messages pretending to be her, tricking him into providing the material for his own public humiliation. Dylan, the bully most fueled by his own self-hate and identity confusion, gives Evan a gun and attempts to be the devil in his ear, urging him to kill himself.

The themes and situations explored in Rare Birds are heavy and often disheartening. The script does offer moments of levity and ironic humour, but this production fails to let those moments shine, and so suffers from a constant weight on the shoulders of the characters and the audience. If this heft was handled more deftly on its own, perhaps the lack of humour wouldn’t be so noticeable, but the cast falls short in fulfilling the potential of the script’s most emotionally laden moments, and the more physically charged moments suffer from poorly executed fight choreography.

Szymkowicz’s script has a lot to offer, and director Scott Ebersold makes a noble attempt at bringing it fully to life. This production is effective, but doesn’t quite stand out as a must-see production.

Runs until 9 April 2017

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