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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Man Covets Bird

"The day will come when seasons end and we are done with nest building."—Man and Bird
(L-R) Andrew Huber and Leeav Sofer. (Photo by Cooper Bates)
It's all very well to boast of the ability to deliver a product that can challenge the gray cells of audiences both young and adult. Kudos and laurels, certainly, to the 24th Street Theater not only for building that pledge into the company's mission, but for consistently delivering the creative goods.

Man Covets Bird, the company's current production, is 70 minutes of enchantment and wonder. Employing two performers (one of whom is the composer), music, some cool animation and a golden spirit, Debbie Devine's production may not easily compete with bigger, splashier fare. It should.

Those who pass the time with a Man at a crossroads and the Bird he is trying to protect should find themselves moved and delighted. The adults filling the house at the opening weekend matinee greatly outnumbered the younger set. Given the work's themes and what that bird represents, Finegan Kruckemeyer's play is one for all us.

Our Man (played by Andrew Huber) begins as a boy, but awakens one day to discover that his life has changed practically overnight. His parents barely recognize him, and he now needs to venture out and start doing adult things like finding a job and a place to live. In an act of divine assistance, fate drops a lost Bird (played by Leeav Sofer) into the man's lap. Our hero takes that bird everywhere, shelters it, nurtures it, and even designs special headsets so that his co-workers can hear its tunes. Man and Bird eventually end up living in an abandoned ice cream truck on the side of which someone has graffiti-ed a word that sounds like "nupid."

The deceptively simple magic of Devine's production chafes against description. Matthew G. Hill's chalk animation and video brings flocks of birds, ice cream trucks and machinery gears cleverly to life. Devine's actors use a few props to great creative effect. The same blocks that had represented the Man's parents, for example, serve as percussion instruments throughout.

In its original incarnation, Man Covets Bird was a solo piece. Devine and Sofer (also the production's music director) have reworked it to incorporate Sofer's clarinet as the musical voice of the Bird. Sofer, his eyes curious, a topknot of hair piled atop his head, is on stage as well, smoothly and deftly playing off Huber's Man-Child. As rich a rapport as they clearly have with each other dramatically, both actors also gently engage with younger patrons.

Here's hoping that many, many young people fill those seats over the course of Man Covets Bird's run, and that they discuss the play for a few minutes before requesting their hand-held electronic devices. Here's further hoping that those very same patrons are given a bird to protect, cherish and share with the world before the time comes when the season ends and "we are done with nest building."

Somehow, I suspect Finegan Kruckemeyer would find nothing nupid about that wish.

Man Covets Bird
By Finegan Kruckemeyer
Based on an Original Concept by Andy Packer
Original Music by Leeav Sofer
Directed by Debbie Devine
Cast: Andrew Huber and Leeav Sofer
Video Projections and Animation: Matthew Hill
Lighting Design: Dan Weingarten
Sound Design Cricket S. Myers
Costume Design: Michael Mullin
Technical Director: Benjamin Durham
Production Stage Manager: Alexx Zachary
Plays through November 22 at the 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th St., Los Angeles (213) 745-6516,
Running time: One Hour and 10 minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Evan Henerson
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