By Susan Taylor
February 20, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) -- East County has a gem of a theatre in Moxie Theatre, located at 6633 El Cajon Blvd, in Rolando. It is a small venue currently playing Birds of North America, a thought-provoking drama that lives up to the theater’s mission statement.
The theatre’s four female founders, known as the Four Pirates, set out in 2004 to create a place that promotes “diverse and honest images of women+ for our culture.”Women+ is used to identify a community centered on women that is inclusive of others who are unrepresented or face gender-based biases.
With that in mind, a play called Birds of North America might sound unrelated to the premise, but it is in the plot of this intimate look at the relationship between a father and daughter that the audience recognizes the lack of sensitivity of the male parent to one of his daughters.
John is a birder (not a birdwatcher, he reminds Caitlin.) A stickler for precision, John knows all the bird songs and habits of the birds in his Baltimore yard, but can’t remember Caitlin’s significant others’ names, her jobs, or where she’s currently living.
Although a medical scientist, John glosses over the fact that Caitlin has faced female medical challenges and lack of respect in the workplace due to her gender. They attempt to bond behind their binoculars in discussions about money and careers, but the discussions seem to dissolve into acrimonious dialogues every time they get together on the deck of the family home.
John has faced his own career disappointments, all of which are treated with empathy from Caitlin, but his superficial attitude toward her and lack of honesty with himself produce frustrating in interactions, at best. It’s nice easy viewing as they turn their back on each other and point fingers, but the minimal set with tree trunks some tables and chairs, and autumn leaves strewn around, and the amazing sound effects, think warbles, tweets. and wind under flapping wings are very engaging.
The performances of actors Mike Sears, who has performed on and off Broadway and in Summer Shakespeare in the Park, as the father, and Farah Dinga, a San Diego-based Pakistani queer actor, producer, director, and writer, as his daughter, couldn’t be better. Anna Ouyang Moench wrote the play, Birds of America, which can be seen at Moxie Theatre until March 5 She is also the writer of the Apple TV series Severence.
Some shows will include pre and post discussions put on by the San Diego Audubon Society, The Friends of Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, and the San Diego Humane Society.
In connection to the play, The San Diego Audubon Society conducted a bird photography contest and the winning picture are posted in the lobby. Another bonus for theater-goers is the fine handout depicting all 16 of the birds mentioned in the play that John and Caitlin see and hear. If you are a fan of the White-Breasted Nut Hatch, you should know that father and daughter sort of dismiss the bird as too common. As opposed to the fiery Scarlet Tanager.
Tickets are still available so check it out in Rolando before it flies away from Moxie Theatre. The show runs Feb. 10 through March 5.
For tickets and details, visit https://www.moxietheatre.com/.