'The Birds' opens at American Stage in St. Petersburg

October 3, 2013 

"The Birds," opens the season at American Stage in St. Petersburg. PHOTO PROVIDED

Ireland's Conor McPherson, one of the best playwrights in the English-speaking world, earned a reputation for intelligent and emotionally shattering drama with such plays as "Shining City" and "The Seafarer."

A few years back, he adapted the Daphne DuMaurier story "The Birds" for the stage. It had famously been adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock, but by many accounts the play and film have almost nothing in common. The play retains but one character from DuMaurier's 1952 story.

McPherson's play is the season opener at American Stage. It starts its four-week run Thursday.

The story revolves around two strangers in a resort town inexplicably and violently attacked by masses of birds. The strangers shelter in an abandoned cottage with no electricity and almost no food. Then a mysterious stranger shows up and further strains their struggle to survive. People who have seen McPherson's play praise the way it sustains its taut emotion.

The American Stage show is directed by Todd Olson, the theater's producing artistic director, who last season directed the stunning production of "The Amish Project." The cast includes Roxanne Fay, Richard B. Watson, Gretchen Porro and Joseph Parra. Parra was in Banyan Theater's "Heroes" recently. The lighting design is by Bradenton's Joseph P. Oshry, who provided the lighting for "Les Miserables" at the Manatee Players.

Details: Oct. 3-27 at American Stage, 163 Third St. N., St. Petersburg. Show times: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $39-$49 Seniors $37-$47; opening night $59. Student tickets $20 in advance. Information: 727-893-7529, americanstage.org.

-- Marty Clear

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