Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
The play opens with Brenda and her son Noah quarreling. His youthful idealism has gotten him expelled in his last year at an expensive college. Noah, who is an astronomy major, has broken all of the campus lights because light pollution is abhorrent to his wishful stargazer heart. Into this tension comes Roísín, a mysterious woman who is conversing and smiling but oddly ominous as well. This enigmatic woman arrives at their doorstep dragging along buried secrets and a story about mysterious birds.
Roísín insists that she knew Brenda years ago when she was called Connie. She tells Noah a story about a woman who lived with a woodpecker. She might have an explanation of why Brenda's isolated house in Northern California is under attack from a descent of woodpeckers.
The drama reminds me of stories that H. P. Lovecraft or Stephen King might have written. It has a tempting, recognizable style of telling a suspenseful tale. There are hidden currents of vengeance, jealously, and psychosis racing with the arrival of the mysterious visitor.
Tracy Ward has assembled a fine cast to present this compelling play. Stacy Ross is magnificent playing the passive-aggressive Brenda while Adam Magill is breathtaking as the son, Noah. Outstanding is Fontana Butterfield who plays the role of Roísín with a certain amount of danger. All of the three member cast employ very different acting styles as they wit and parry, compelling the audience to switch allegiance several times.
Sound designer Liz Ryder has a lot to do in producing the rural atmosphere of the isolated cabin and its avian neighbors during the last moments of the drama. Scenic designer Beth Hall has devised a perfect living room set of the cabin. David Goodwin's projections bring out the supernatural nature of the drama. Director Tracy Ward brings out the skills of these three actors.
The Thrush & the Woodpecker runs through August 27th, 2016, at the Custom Made Theatre Co., 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-798-2682 or visit www.custommade.org. Coming up next is Chess.