Rachel Parker’s ‘The Wolfe & The Bird’; Guns Don’t Kill People – Parents Do

By Ernest Kearney — There’s a great deal that is familiar about The Wolfe & The Bird, Rachel Parker’s one-woman show at The Matrix Theatre.

It is a story we’ve heard before, the tale of a cold abusive mother whose daughter is the target of her verbal violence, psychological cruelty and habitual maltreatment. We are shown the persistent viciousness of Gladys, (the mother), against her daughter; from the age of eight through her high school years.

The source of the mother’s spitefulness —it comes as no surprise— are ruined dreams of a modeling career, which she blames on a bad marriage and an unwanted pregnancy. Now, her bitterness is unleashed on her family in the form of repeated onslaughts of the “Wrath of Gladys.”

It, all, is pretty standard stuff.

What is exceptional in The Wolfe & The Bird is Parker herself and the preciseness with which she captures her narrator’s persona first as the child then as the young girl on the threshold of womanhood suffering under the vindictiveness of the mother.

Rachel Parker in “The Wolfe & The Bird”

Parker has assembled a talented group of performers – James Heaney, Dagney Kerr, Ivory Tiffin, Madeleine Townsend who, aided by the craft of Sound Designer Stephen Epstein, provide the voices of various figures from her life, with Phil Ward as her borderline alcoholic father and Silve Zamora as the matriarch of malice.

Alina Phelan’s skillful direction is infused with intelligence and Matt Richter’s lighting design shines with subtleness.

But it is Parker who conveys a child’s confusion and fear as the metamorphosis into a teenager’s determination to survive and escape the unique and unbearable hell found within the dysfunctional family and who wins us over with a performance that is surfeit with an immediacy that captivates her audience and a sincerity that wins our commitment to her struggles while ensuring we rejoice in her eventual triumphant.

* * *

The Wolfe & The Bird
on stage Saturdays and Sundays
Now Thru Oct. 9
at the Matrix Theatre,
7657 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
For Information and Tickets Phone:
Box Office: 323-852-1445
or Go To:

Written by

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 TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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