A Birder is someone who seriously pursues bird-watching and, in this comedy, a middle-aged accountant starts getting messages from the finches nesting by his kitchen window. When a male finch looks him in the eye and sees through his upper middle class façade the guy bursts into tears. He keeps his anguish secret from his free-spending wife, who he is supporting way beyond their means, but from then on his life unravels. He quits his job, goes bankrupt, and is too fearful to tell anyone.
To while away the hours he starts bird watching with a local birder and, through the example of his new friend, realizes that downsizing has life-enhancing rewards. Although the characters are believable, the situations author Julie Marie Myatt puts them through seem too contrived. To suggest that communicating with birds might be a transcendental experience just doesn’t click. A dog might see into your heart and make you rethink your lack of joy, but a finch? A sparrow?
The cast, under Dan Bonnell’s smooth direction, perform admirably. Chet Grissom is the perplexed hero and Laurie Okin his acquisitive wife. Webster Williams is the philosophical bird-lover with Monique Gelineau his flirtatious daughter. Crash Buist is the brazenly over-confident youth of the future. Commissioned and developed by Center Theatre Group, Birder is produced by Donna Simone Johnson and Ann Hearn.
At the Road on Lankershim, 5108 Lankershim Blvd. NoHo, through June 19. Tickets 818-761-8838 or www.RoadTheatre.org. Photos by Michele Young.