Review: The Thrush and the Woodpecker | Kitchen Dog Theater | Undermain Theatre

Fowl Play

The puzzle pieces don't come together in Kitchen Dog Theater's rolling world premiere of Steve Yockey's The Thrush and the Woodpecker.

published Saturday, June 4, 2016

Photo: Matt Mzorek
The Thrush and the Woodpecker at Kitchen Dog Theater


Dateline- Kitchen Dog Theater’s production of The Thrush and the Woodpecker by Steve Yockey is a rolling world premiere of a National New Play Network play that KDT presents in repertory with another Yockey play, Blackberry Winter. Same playwright, same place (Undermain Theatre), same designers but different actors, different director. This time it’s Jonathon Taylor at the helm.

All of these pieces may explain why the show is so puzzling.

On a homey set courtesy of Scott Osborne, Kristin McCollum sits as Brenda Hendricks enjoying her beverage, coffee-commercial style. Carson Wright enters as Noah Hendricks with the clear need of his own beverage redemption; he doesn’t get it. His mother has engineered her a.m. ambush to put her at a liquid advantage. It’s not a fair fight.

Or a fight at all, really.

What ensues is a scene where with two people trying to convince the other how little they are concerned about what the other is so concerned about. For him it is her love life, for her it’s his recent dismissal from college for vandalism. Mothers and sons, right?

Except not.

The pieces don’t fit together and it’s hard to tell if director Taylor let the actors off the hook or the actors didn’t click with the roles. Or, is it that playwright Yockey has something up his sleeve? In any case, this blasé badinage doesn’t seem like a conventional mother/son reckoning. The tone shifts radically when McCollum leaves and Diane Worman enters as Róisín Danner.

The air begins to crackle as the play goes from Neil Simon to Neil LaBute, from “Who cares?” to “Who’s next?” In what’s sure to be a performance of the year, Worman brings a predatory charm onstage. Though she drives the change, it isn’t clear that all of the credit belongs to her. It’s almost as if playwright Yockey has segued into a different manuscript that borrows from movies like The Birds and Cape Fear. Not only is your past against you, nature is as well.

Sound designer John M. Flores has lots to do creating the rustic atmosphere of this secluded cabin and it’s avian neighbors. In the climactic moments of the play, lighting designer Suzanne Lavender joins in on the fun as well and they take full advantage of the juxtaposition of Osborne’s other set for this Yockey repertory. And like the other show, David Goodwin’s projections step in to illustrate the more supernatural aspect as a sort of backdrop backstory. They aren’t narrated here in the same way, but the nagging juxtaposition of recorded media versus live performance remains.

It’s a puzzling play of pieces. From the campy Cameron Cobb-designed catfight to Noah’s post-deus ex machina coda, the chunks are satisfying despite their trope origins. It’s just hard to assemble the puzzle without the picture on the box.

Or isn’t there one?

 Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Fowl Play
The puzzle pieces don't come together in Kitchen Dog Theater's rolling world premiere of Steve Yockey's The Thrush and the Woodpecker.
by David Novinski

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :