Adam Szymkowicz has written a new play that addresses the epidemic of bullying that too often leads to teen suicide. In the deeply moving "Rare Birds," currently running at the 14th Street Y, Young Evan Wills (a very believable Jake Glassman) is obsessed with bird watching and collecting anything to do with birding. His bird-themed T-shirts make him the butt of many jokes in high school, and lead to escalating bullying by the duo of Mike (Dylan Guerra) and Dylan (George Colligan). They address Evan as "Bird Tits." All three of these students are mesmerized by the lovely Jenny (Joanna Fanizza), but she hardly acknowledges Evan, even though they share adjoining lockers at school. Evan's mother, Janet (Tracey Gilbert), is struggling as a single Mom and is trying to have a dating relationship with Ralph (Robert Buckwalter), but Evan does everything in his power to thwart the budding romance.
As the bullying at school increases, and turns to malicious cyber bullying, Janet is putting pressure on Evan at home to be more "normal" and to give up his obsession with birds. He comes close to suicide, provoked by Mike giving him a gun and telling him to kill himself to rid the world of a "worthless faggot." The tension mounts as Evan locks himself in his room intent on finding the courage to commit the deed.
The play opens with a foreshadowing metaphor - Mike and Dylan shooting an innocent bird that Evans finds and tries to nurse back to health. Playwright Szymkowicz has sensitively drawn each of these characters, and Director Scott Ebersold has molded this ensemble into a team that functions with passion and conviction. The overall impact is strong and sobering, getting across a message of anti-bullying without being preachy or polemical.
|Dylan Guerra as Mike|
George Colligan as Dylan
Jake Glassman as Evan
"Rare Birds" by Adam Szymkowicz
The Red Fern Theatre Company
14th Street Y
Through April 9
Scenic Design is by Andrew Mannion, Costumes by Izzy Fields, Lighting by Derek Van Heel, Sound and Projections by Andy Evan Cohen.
The play runs until this coming Sunday, April 9. I strongly encourage a trip to the 14th Street Y to see this fine Red Fern Theatre Company production of this powerful new work with a strong cast.
Red Fern Theatre Website