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Theater Review

There's a murder of crows, but ...

Even stranger than that term, there's the bloody, funny 'The Bird and

February 06, 2009|David Ng

A psychopathic accountant befriends a pregnant office secretary, and the two of them run away on an adventure that involves love, murder and ornithology.

There's little about Keith Huff's "The Bird and Mr. Banks" that could be described as ordinary. This horror-comedy, produced by the Road Theatre Company, is a sustained piece of theatrical creepiness that features an inspired and unpredictable performance by Sam Anderson as a CPA who harbors a serious blood and bird obsession.

Following a bad breakup with her philandering boss, Miss O'Shaughnessy (Jenny Kern) tries to kill herself only to be saved by the elderly man-child Mr. Banks (Anderson). The unlikely couple shack up in Mr. Banks' old mansion, but when the young lady encounters a series of bloody corpses, their friendship plunges into a dark and twisted universe.

Anderson's line readings constitute a master class of arrhythmic cadences and tipsy nuance. The actor (who has a recurring role on NBC's "Lost") builds his character through a series of whispery vocal inflections that reveal unexpected depths of psychology.

Directed by Mark St. Amant, the production pushes against the membrane of absurdity but never tears the delicate fabric. The lead actors share an effortless chemistry that powers the play through its few slack moments and sends it soaring through the magnificent conclusion.

Huff is a promising playwright who exhibits impressive command of dark humor and sick sensibilities. "The Bird and Mr. Banks" is strange, but its strangeness is comforting and ultimately inspiring.

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'The Bird and Mr. Banks'

Where: Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays ; 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends March 21.

Price: $30

Contact: (866) 811-4111

Running time: 2 hours,15 minutes

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