Aristophanes’ “The Birds” Doesn’t Quite Take Flight

By Ernest Kearney — Some plays, due to the period of their composition or the language in which originally penned, present various problems for those wishing to stage them. But none hold more difficulties than Aristophanes’ The Birds.

This most famous comedy of the ancient world’s most famous playwright was first staged in 414 B.C.E., and is bursting with places unknown to contemporary audiences (Laurium, Olophyxia, the Hebrus and Alpheus Rivers) as well as personalities of Aristophanes’ Athens (Nicias, Cleisthenes, Lusicrates and Proxenides) to whom many of the play’s jokes are aimed.

The current production of The Birds, mounted by  The Sacred Fools Theater Company, at The Broadwater for HFF2019  has attempted to retool the classic piece with modern references. They start off strong by projecting the iconic image of crows gathering on a jungle gym set from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds as a faux Tippi Hedren (Therese Olson) goes scurrying across the stage.

From there we are served numerous jabs at Donald Trump, are offered some nice musical interludes, some nice puppets by Joyce Hutter and a fair amount of silliness.

Director Sabrina Lloyd does her best, but the production was obliviously a patch work, rushed to make the Fringe. However, while she and her crew bit off more than they could chew, they didn’t completely choke on it. The show Silver Medal (via The TVolution)managed to spit a couple of well-aimed wads in the direction of that troll in the oval office and it was fun enough to earn —



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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at and Follow him on Facebook.

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