Other vignettes are less successful in presentation-perhaps due to Pintauro's heavy-handed writing, a lack of focus from the actors or Crist's staging and direction-including the opening vignette "Lightning," performed by Deanna Glasser and Paige Glasser. I have no idea what it was about because I understood about one in every five words uttered by the two actresses. "Uncle Chick," in which a nephew (played by Michael Welch) confronts his uncle (Anthony Just) about his homosexuality-the nephew's gay and hopes to console his uncle who's mourning his lover's death and the uncle thinks the younger man is coming on to him. Pintauro's scene just doesn't ring true, nor do the two actors.
Some judicious editing would do wonders for Birds in Church and considering the fact that the 14 scenes are selected from among Pintauro's collection of Metropolitan Operas, it's particularly galling that restraint seems non-existent.
Adams choreographs six dancers (besides Adams, the uncredited dancers are Nichole Forde, Faith Kelm, BranDon Johnson, Caleb Reynolds and Dominique Hawes) who are onstage between vignettes to move various set pieces, adding a certain flair and proving that Adams should start her own modern dance company. However, after we learn how many dancers it takes to move two chairs and a box (and it's no joke here-there's never enough lightness in these kinds of things), it becomes distracting.
Jim Manning provides the production's most intriguing component: a beautifully designed backdrop (beautifully lighted by designer Paul Cook) built of various-sized boxes and drawers which, if taken too literally, obviously represented the compartmentalization of the lives of all of Pintauro's characters, each of whom are hiding something of themselves from those around them.
- Birds in Church. Written by Joe Pintauro, from Metropolitan Operas. Directed by Trish Crist. Presented by Rhubarb Theater. At Darkhorse Theater, Nashville. Through November 17.