If you were a bird and your entire kingdom consisted of the tiny cage where you slept, ate, drank, preened and otherwise just hung out you’d feel really threatened if another bird came along and tried to knock you off your perch, as it were. Let alone another bird with habits, styles and affectations much different from yours. If you were that bird, you’d feel threatened. Annoyed. Face it, you’d be Flocked.
Flocked, now playing at the Brick Theatre as part of Amuse Bouche A NY Clown Theatre Festival Hors d’Oeuvre showcases a very tiny world – a birdcage – and a very big theme: control.
When we first come upon the world of Flocked we see Pepper (Audrey Crabtree) enjoying her small but exclusive domain. She awakens, surveys her surrounding happily, takes a drink; just a typical day in the life of a bird in a birdcage. That is, until she notices a much larger cage set up next to hers — excitedly she waits for the footsteps of her owner and when they come closer she readies herself for the transfer to the Big Cage. Anticlimactically, the lights go off and nothing happens.
To Pepper’s shock and dismay when morning comes she awakens to find an interloper in her midst … Chula (Gabriela Muñoz) – a showy bird accessorized to the nines with personality bursting from every feather – has not only been granted the new cage but seems to be settling in in a way that Pepper doesn’t approve of at all.
These two birds size each other up and immediately go about trying to one up each other – Pepper in an effort to show she still rules the roost and Chula volleying back gamely in order to prove that she’s there to live in harmony. And, if harmony won’t work … she’s not going down without a fight.
Flocked contains very few words … the occasional squawk, bird-shriek and trilling work to convey most of the meaning along with unmistakable body language. Still, it’s hard to miss the story arc as these two birds meet, misjudge, mistrust, match wits, mix it up, make peace and eventually miss each other. Throughout it all each bird both celebrates and skewers the idea of what it means to be an American (bird) and what it means to be a Mexican (bird). Cultural stereotypes are raised only to be swatted away or broken open like a pinata.
Interestingly, Crabtree and Muñoz, while both doing much the same thing, have completely different styles, physicality and places where they aim in order to get the laugh. Crabtree has a bolder swagger with a lot of her humor finding its way to the audience through subtly tossed off moments (some of which are almost internalized) while Muñoz goes for cute, with a broad style that makes sure every humorous moment is advertised with a loud neon sign. I immediately warmed to one of the actresses while my guest for the evening identified with the other. This made for an interesting conversation afterwards as we realized the style we related to revealed layers of our own personalities and identified the lens through which we filter our own personal world. Fascinating.
While on the surface Flocked looks simple and sweet - nothing more than a mime about birds – it’s actually a complex bit of theatre which highlights basic human (and presumably bird) themes with humor and finesse. One more show tonight – catch it before it flies away.
~~~Flocked September 8 – 11, 2011 Created and Performed by Audrey Crabtree and Gabriela Muñoz Directed by Hilary Chaplain Costumes by Valentina Muñoz with Adriana Sarda . Click Here for tickets . The Brick 575 Metropolitan Avenue Brooklyn NY 11211 between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street