The reviews are in for Guthrie Theater’s ‘The Birds’

Conor McPherson’s The Birds is based on the short story by Daphne du Maurier. The story also inspired Hitchcock’s movie by the same name, but the play and movie share little in common.

The Guthrie Theater is staging The Birds through April 8. While McPherson is known for his great writing (as seen in The Seafarer on The Jungle stage back in 2009), but according to this flock of critics, the characters in his latest production lack depth.

Scroll down to read excerpts from reviews; click on the links to read them in full.

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Angela Timberman (Diane) in the American premiere of The Birds at the Guthrie Theater, by Conor McPherson, based upon the Daphne du Maurier short story

Photo by Aaron Fenster

From Rohan Preston at the Star Tribune:

Henry Wishcamper’s hokey production comes up short for several reasons. Designer Scott Edwards’ layered sound score is overloud and overused. The screechy birds crashing into the house that is one of the last refuges of humanity sound suspiciously like people punching walls… Maybe it was bound to fall short. After all, it’s easier for a film to follow a play than the other way around. Still, I held out hope for a better “Birds.”

From Ed Huyck at City Pages:

It’s hard to connect to a thriller without some sympathy, at least initially, with the characters. This is a particularly unlikeable quartet, meaning that whatever twists and turns happen don’t carry enough emotional weight to keep the audience engaged.

I think the production could also amp up the absurdity of everything that’s happening. In the same note, McPherson mentions both Pinter and Beckett, and his Birds could have been greatly improved by deploying some of the deft humor found in those playwrights’ direst works.

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J.C. Cutler (Nat) and Angela Timberman (Diane) in the American premiere of The Birds at the Guthrie Theater, by Conor McPherson, based upon the Daphne du Maurier short story

Photo by Aaron Fenster

From Chris Hewitt at the Pioneer Press:

The cramped production, atmospheric sound and world-weary acting (the difficult-to-pin-down Hagen and fiery Cutler are especially memorable) give this bleak and compelling play a sick momentum, even if we fear its characters are moving toward nothing. These three strangers were dead before they met each other and they don’t need a bunch of birds pecking at their faces to tell them that.

From Anna Rosensweig at AisleSayTwinCities.com:

It’s in this ability to sustain an anxious tone that The Birds really excels, rather than in its content. McPherson’s script is well-constructed and nuanced, but it doesn’t ever really get beyond some tried and true hallmarks of horror and science fiction. McPherson does introduce some promising questions about religion and morality into this nature-against-humanity scenario, but unfortunately they remain under-explored yet over-discussed.

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Summer Hagen (Julia) in the American premiere of The Birds at the Guthrie Theater, by Conor McPherson

Photo by Aaron Fenster

From Janet Preus at HowWasTheShow.com:

Stephen Yoakam appears as Tierney, the farmer who lives across the lake. I reviewed Yoakam in The Seafarer, also by Conor McPherson, and once again, I didn’t think of him as an actor playing a part, which is the highest compliment I have for an actor. He simply stepped into the scene and it was his. The only disappointment was that he was on stage for such a short time.

Have you seen The Birds at the Guthrie Theater? If so, what did you think?

  • Lee Wolfson

    My wife, son and I endured The Birds last night, silently praying for it to end. If it had had an intermission, I would guess much of the audience would have slipped out. Hysterical and unappealing characters squeezed into a claustrophobic set while acting out a gloomy apocalyptic vision. What fun!