Over 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece, crowds gathered to enjoy a funny, bawdy, topical new satire by Aristophanes titled The Birds. It was applauded for its humor, the wit of its references and its engaging music. A classic comedy, the play has since seen multiple adaptations, its story of the search for a life unfettered proving remarkably applicable through the ages. In both its continued appeal and its outcome, it is a story that goes to show that the more things change the more they stay the same.
While closely following the structure and story of the original play, the adaptation by John Glore and the performance group Culture Clash, with music by Michael Roth, takes on updated issues from a Latino perspective. The story begins as Foxx and Gato, played by Geo Alva and Ivan Gamboa, wander a wasteland seeking the Hoopoe, a bird who used to be a man. Tired of the challenges and drudgery of living in the world of men, they aim to find a place less plagued by stress, hoping that in his flights Hoopoe may have come upon such a land. However, after meeting him, Foxx decides instead to convince the birds to build their own great city and become the ultimate rulers of men and gods. His argument proves persuasive and soon construction of the new utopia is underway. Everything seems ideal but complications quickly arise with a host of unexpected and unwanted visitors. In the end, they learn that a trip to the clouds doesn't mean they've left their problems behind on the ground.
In HSU's production, director Michael Fields has further adapted Culture Clash's take, including changing the title to the Spanish Los Pajaros, updating references and adding local flair and a bit of commedia dell'arte spirit. The result is a show that offers ample opportunity for both heavy laughter and reflection on social themes. Be prepared for tongue-in-cheek impressions, crude jokes and audience participation. It is without question an energetic ride, presented in less than two hours with no intermission. Fields has gathered a strong cast, many taking on multiple roles, each with its own stand-out moment. The show benefits greatly from the addition of a live six-piece band on stage, led by Tim Randles, which provides a mix of Latin, rock and blues sounds. The use of the stage is particularly laudable. There is a mid-show scene change mid show that is one of the best executed and most beautiful I have ever seen. Overall, it is a production that, like the original, is hilarious in its references and engaging in its music and movement.
Los Pajaros runs for just one more weekend. The show's final three performances are Feb. 12 through 14 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and $8 for students and seniors. For more information, visit www.hsustage.blogspot.com.
Macbeth. North Coast Repertory Theatre takes on Shakespeare's stabby tale of ambition run wild with Calder Johnson directing the intense, primal adaptation and Sam Greenspan and Jo Kuzelka as the couple most likely to succeed the throne. Through Feb. 15. 442-6278.
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. Chemistry and wit abound in Ferndale Repertory Theatre's sure-footed play about a reserved woman and her provoking dance instructor. Starring Marilyn McCormick and Gary Sommers, directed by Patrick Spike. Through Feb. 15. 786-5483.
Earn some good karma with your entertainment. V-Day Humboldt presents The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler at the D Street Neighborhood Center in Arcata Feb. 20 through 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 general and $8 for students, seniors and presale. V-Day is a movement to end violence against women and girls by raising awareness and funds through creative events. For more information about all of the 2015 V-Day events, visit www.vdayhumboldt.org.