By David Walters
Great acting, great directing, great writing. I’ll do what I can to convince you to go without revealing story as its reveal in the theater will be the joy of your experience. From the moment the lights slam up on stage and you hear the opening line, “That one and that one and that one and that one that looks like mushrooms,” it’s a delightful ride.
Regretfully, So the Birds Are, is the title, and, as playwright Julia Izumi says, “a sentence as bizarre as I was experiencing life in that moment.” Her play follows through with that bizarreness bringing incredulousness, joy, ridiculousness, tears, gasps, applause, and laughter. Every moment is fought for and every moment is earned. It’s a wild and delirious time in the theater.
There’s a lot in here, adoption, affairs, airport in Guangzhou, arson, assassination, Cambodia, China, cowboys (cowmen), drug addiction, incest, murder, Nebraska, New Jersey, plumbers, Pol Pot, prison, rhyming, schizophrenia, sky buying, a snowman, suburbia, tree forts, ukulele songs, and that’s just in alphabetical order. It’s a fabulously wild ride through the imagination of Ms. Izumi’s mind as she addresses the not-so-normal American family.
But, let me start at the beginning as this is turning into a review of lists.
In thinking about the typical couch play, where the family revolves around the living room and the center-placed couch, seeking to resolve the issues that each was saddled with, confronting and retreating from the onslaught of emotions that seem to erupt from nowhere with the reveal that it’s really from somewhere, Ms. Izumi could not relate. That was not her story. That was not her family. They did not sit on couches. So instead, she assigned herself the task of writing a couch play from the place of who she is. What came out was an amalgamation of real and unreal, farce and drama, love and romance, hate and spite, the finality of death and the newness of life (oops, I’m listing again).
What I really want to say (besides go see this, you will enjoy it), is that this is a well-made couch play, but the couch is taken apart and the soft cushions are tossed about into crazy land. It’s a crazy land that you will want to live in though, as it is comforting in its mess of life that we all experience if we’d only admit. Here in Regretfully, So the Birds Are, you’ll get a chance to laugh at it all, finally. Is there any other way to really live?
And one last thing, what’s great about Regretfully, So the Birds Are, is that it is not a book, movie, television show, or online presentation. It can only be a play in its fantasticalness. As such, it is thrilling to be in an audience unanimously all reacting together to the life in front of them. Please join us.
PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS AND WP THEATER PRESENT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF JULIA IZUMI’S REGRETFULLY, SO THE BIRDS ARE, DIRECTED BY JENNY KOONS, MARCH 22 – APRIL 30 (opening April 11) in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons (416 West 42nd Street, New York)
The creative team includes You-Shin Chen (Scenic Designer), Alicia J. Austin (Costume Designer), Stacey Derosier (Lighting Designer), and Megumi Katayama (Sound Designer). Jenny Kennedy is the Production Stage Manager, and Jessie Moore is the Assistant Stage Manager.
As always, this is just one person’s opinion in a world filled with them.