BIRDS: press, photos and video

It’s imaginative work from a playwright who builds a fascinating premise that’s heavily thematic without being heavily stylized. And that’s partly due to the work of director Wendy McClellan, who carefully balances hardcore New York with the familiar magic of sensationalist cinema, marking real time events with a background fantasia of blurry dreams and melodramatic humor.
— The Examiner (CLICK HERE for the complete article)

The Rorschach company consistently invokes a feeling of uneasiness throughout the work — we’re never quite sure about the reliability of our narrator, Jorie (Jjanna Valentiner), or whether to fully trust the charming but creepy Gus (a wry, winning Brian Hemmingsen), who may or may not be a mere homeless man. Its actors also warm us to less than endearing characters — prime examples include Nanna Ingvarsson, who plays Rhea as self-aware Norma Desmond with a touch of the sardonic, and Tim Getman, who makes us feel for snobby, superficial James even at his most offensive moments.
— DCist (CLICK HERE for the complete article)

Every actor steps up. Valentiner’s Jorie is believably steely, intelligent, and in control until exactly the moment when she’s not anymore, and she makes that transition work. As Gus, the bear of a homeless man who knows more than he’s telling, Brian Hemmingsen exudes warmth but lets us see something dangerous behind his eyes. Marissa Molnar’s portrayal of a young prostitute known only as “A” is affecting and unsentimental. And as the evil, cackling witch Rhea, whose mysterious hold over Jorie’s mind and memory drives the narrative, Nanna Ingvarsson is having a ball. She’s doing a full-tilt Norma Desmond, lifting her grimacing face to the sky while her arms undulate slowly, menacingly, like charmed snakes. She switches from seething malice to annoyed distraction in the blink of an eye, and it gets a laugh every time.
— Washington City Paper (CLICK HERE for the complete article)

It is Hemmingsen, however, that takes possession of the stage each time he’s on it. He’s a homeless man with a surplus of common sense and a touch of magic of his own. When Valentiner donates one of three of her boyfriend’s overcoats to the homeless man she sees on a bench every day, he begins a transformation into a sartorially splendid, suave man about town. Through it all, he remains fascinating to watch
— Potomac Stages

The production’s hero is its set designer, Jacob S. Muehlhausen, who has ingeniously loaded into the church sanctuary an abstracted Manhattan streetscape of newsprint and what look like Xerox images of office buildings. The evening’s cleverest surprise is the manner in which Muehlhausen shifts the action to James and Jorie’s inner sanctum.
— Washington Post (CLICK HERE for the complete article)

Enter a menacing but friendly ogre, in the form of a homeless man, Gus, (Brian Hemmingsen). Along with the prostitute, A, (Marissa Molnar), who hustles a stranger in the audience, these two street characters seem to have a better grip on the real world than do our hero and heroine, living in a high-rise dream. Maybe all four characters are one and the same? Jorie tells us she feels dislocated and bought, just as A does. James is jobless; Gus is homeless. Aware of their sameness, Jorie and James throw a cocktail party, invite and share their lives with A and Gus, who allows his hair to be cut and dresses up in a business suit. In the play’s best moments, the four characters swap roles and interact as if they accept their oneness as a family and the city as home.
–DC Theatre Scene (CLICK HERE for the comlete article)

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