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DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM [email protected]
The 5 & Dime Theatre Company opened its 17th production since its initial beginning in 2011. Having seen all of them, we can attest that the theatre company has contributed an exciting lineup of plays to our local theatre scene and continues to do so.

Their current offering is a play with an obliterated title; two lines which appear inside the program spell it out. “Bird” is a comedy for mature audiences which is loosely adapted from Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull.”

bird02You don’t have to be a Chekhov fan to enjoy the play (although, as with any adaptation, it might help). While Chekhov is acknowledged as a major playwright, productions of his work have been limited locally. A number of classic Russian plays were staged by Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre (ABET) previously, which included two by Chekhov: “Uncle Vanya” in 2002 and “Wild Honey” in 2004. However, Chekhov (in adaptation) may be experiencing a trendy revival, judging by the recent success of Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” which borrowed characters and plot from Chekov scripts. The comedy premiered in 2012 and was subsequently staged locally by Players By the Sea, and in Gainesville by the Hippodrome.

If unique and riveting theatre excites and challenges you, then this production of “Bird” is highly recommended for continuing your journey into the theatrical world. You will certainly appreciate this excellent production, provided you don’t mind hearing the cast frequently use the profane adjective that begins with the sixth letter of the alphabet.

bird04The setting is a home on a lake, as was that of Chekhov’s original “Seagull,” which is owned by Emma, a famous but aging actress. She is joined by six friends and family members, and as the first act unravels, it becomes apparent that each of the characters is in love with someone else. The exception is Emma’s brother Sorn, an elderly physician.

Director Christopher Farrell has selected an outstanding picture-perfect cast, with a wonderful mix of polished veteran actors and some exciting new young talent that we hope to see in future productions around town.

Jay Bilderback is Dev, a pleasant energetic character who seems more interested in food at the beginning of the first act than in anything else. If you saw Jay at Theatre Jacksonville, you know he is a fine comedian, as he showed in “Figaro” and “Don’t Dress for Dinner.” He will have you laughing in this one.

T.R Hainline is Sorn, who has no love interest, but is instead devoted to his work as a doctor. T.R. has previously appeared in numerous local productions, and is also a member of Awkward Silence, a local sketch comedy group. He gave a presentation on shore birds to an Audubon Society audience when he was nine years old, and reportedly received rave reviews, so he is obviously well-suited for his current role.

Ashley R. Macko is making her local stage debut as Nina, a gorgeously attractive aspiring actress. Ashley’s previous experience included roles with the Young Actors Theatre in Tallahassee Florida and she has been very active in various theatres in roles behind the scenes.

Sinda Nichols is the alluring Emma, a well-known actress, who rules the household. Sinda has performed locally and nationally in two one-woman shows, appearing as Ann Landers in “The Lady with all the Answers” and as Emily Dickinson in the “Belle of Amherst.” Last summer, she also portrayed Barbara in Players by the Sea’s acclaimed “August: Osage County.”

Scott Broughton is Trig, a handsome writer, who is Emma’s lover but is also interested in one of the younger ladies. Mr. Broughton has been away from theatre for a while, and we last saw him as Tito in Limelight’s “Lend Me A Tenor.”

Franklin Ritch is Conrad, Emma’s son and the most violent of the characters, who delivers a most interesting monologue on the condition of today’s theatre. The program biography does not provide information about the actor’s past experience.

Rebecca Wucker as Mash, who is a musician, rounds out the cast. Although a native of Jacksonville, this is her stage debut on the local scene. Her previous theatre experiences were at Sarasota’s New College of Florida where she led the college’s improvisation group in addition to acting in productions. She displays her singing talents in several songs during “Bird.”

If you are wondering how all this turns out, the character Dev brings the audience up to date on everyone’s life in the final act just before the end.

Of note, the fourth wall comes down at intervals, and actors address the audience from time to time. You might encounter an actor who looks directly at you and asks for suggestions as to how to continue. The response of both parties involved is part of the fun.

We appreciated many of the interesting aspects of this show. Each character had a monologue, which gave us insight into their thoughts and longings. While the story’s electrical charge is instantly evident during the opening scenes, it is not easy to foresee what is coming, and everything happens at a wild speed.

bird03This is a play with music, which was provided at intervals by two roving musicians. Pete Mosely, who was the musical director, played bass, ukulele, and glockenspiel; Jacob Schuman played guitar.

“Bird,” written by Aaron Posner, has been the most successful of several adaptations he has written, which have included “Life Sucks,” “My Name is Asher Lev” and “The Chosen.” He is best known for his work as a stage director at major theaters throughout the country.

The Production Team included: Chris Farrell (Director), Pete Mosely (Musial Director) Holly Deckerhoff Manuel (Choreographer) Matt Tompkins (Assistant Director), Eric Yarham (Stage Manager), Lee Hamby (Production Manager), Tom Fallon (Set Designer), Jim Wiggins (Lighting Designer).

The play is being presented at The 5 & Dime’s new home, a warehouse space at 700 East Union Street, Unit 1-J, in downtown Jacksonville. The setting is unique, has tiered seating, and is perfect for this provocative comedy. The play opened on February 19, 2016, with performances scheduled on February 20, 22, and 25 -27, all at 7:30 pm. See thefive& for reservations and additional information.


About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

october, 2021