BIRDS OF A FEATHER an anthropomorphic evening of serious fun.

“Birds do it, bees do it- Let’s fall in love!”
L to R: Dave Levine as Roy, Luke Taylor as Tango, Elissa Beth Stebbins as Zookeeper and Christopher Morrell as Birder

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Comedy by Marc Acito and directed by Tom Bruett. New Conservatory Theatre Center, (Walker Theatre), located at 25 Van Ness Avenue near Market Street in San Francisco, 94102. (415) 861-8972 or online at

Through June 29, 2013

BIRDS OF A FEATHER an anthropomorphic evening of serious fun.

An excellent way to make a controversial point palatable to an audience is to give animals human traits known as anthropomorphism and allow them to convey your ideas/words. You see this every day in cartoons. Marc Acito, author of the comic novels How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex has taken actual events involving birds and humans coming up with this clever play Birds of a Feather receiving its San Francisco premiere at the New Conservatory in the intimate Walker Theatre.

One of the three major elements of the story involve a real pair of male penguins who nested together and were allowed to hatch an egg and raise the chick with both sharing the nesting duties. This story of ‘gay’ penguins inspired the children’s book And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. Alas, the book was banned from school library and it also raised the hackles of conservatives because of the homosexual nature of the penguin’s relationship.

The second part of the story involves a pair of red-tailed hawks, Pale Male and Lola, who built a nest on the upper floor of a luxury high rise building and became a viewing sensation for New York City and beyond. The nesting pair were the darlings of millions of people with the exception of those who lived in the building because of half-eaten rats and pigeons and bird s—t. The nest was taken down but the uproar of the populous was so great the condo rebuilt a platform for future nests. Pale Male and Lola never produced another chick in that nesting area.

The third element involves the humans Paula Zahn and her husband who were the darlings of the paparazzi who documented their nasty divorce proceedings in all the tabloids and on TV.

Four fine actors play multiple (25+??) roles and change swiftly in and out of costumes changing their demeanor to fit that specific character. The two penguins are Silo and Roy (Luke Taylor and David Levine) and the two hawks are the same pair playing Pale Male and Lola. Levine slips from the female caricature of Roy to the macho male image of Pale Male and vice versa for Taylor from male penguin Silo to female hawk Lola. It is all a lot of fun with serious over-tones of gender specific roles being unacceptable since each pair of birds is a ‘family’ sharing child rearing.

Elissa Beth Stebbins as the Zookeeper and Paula Zane give the most professional performance without infringing on the actions of her fellow thespians. The other ‘human’ is simply called Birder and Christopher Morrell who has to play it mostly straight is a great match for Stebbins. In the play those characters are loners but Acito has a charming semi-epilog who find the first tentative stirrings of love as the story of Roy and Silo comes to an end.  They discover each other reaffirming that being love is tough but is a hell of a lot better than loneliness.

The dialog and physical action is supplemented by projections including a video of  the hawks flying under the “Everywhere of Blue” so admired by penguin Silo. Running time about 90 minutes with an intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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