The Astor Street Opry Company will offer theatergoers a chilling experience beginning Friday, Oct. 6, when they present “The Birds,” adapted for the stage by Conor McPherson.
“The Birds” came to life in a short story by Daphne du Maurier that became the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film.
Most people are familiar with “The Birds” because of Hitchcock, but film and play bear little resemblance to each other. “The film was Hollywood-ized,” Sheila Shaffer, the director of the Astoria production, said.
The Dramatist Play Service described McPherson’s adaptation as a “gripping, unsettling, and moving look at human relationships in the face of societal collapse.”
Two strangers, Nat and Diane, enter an isolated house hoping to escape a mass of attacking birds. Nat and Diane find no peace and little comfort. There is no electricity in the house and not much food. Adding to their discomfort is the possibility that a nearby neighbor is still alive and may be watching them.
A young woman, Julia, arrives at the house, bringing news from the outside and additional discord.
The people in the house become paranoid. Attacking birds outside the house pursue them, and perhaps their paranoia is beginning to consume them inside the house.
“I first considered ‘The Birds’ because it had a known name connected to it,” Shaffer said. “I also wanted something newer. This play is not just about the birds attacking. It’s about the relationship of the people trapped in the house.”
Brown said “it was easy to pick ‘The Birds’ because of the high diversity of quality in the script, and knowing it was in the very capable hands of Sheila Shaffer.”
Though Shaffer brings a wealth of experience to her position as director, this is her first production at the Astor Street Opry Company. Her theater work in this area began in 2002 at Cannon Beach’s Coaster Theatre.
Asked what he wanted people to take away from the play, Brandon Hurd, who plays Nat, said, “I want people to do a double-take when they see a bird.”
“There are live and recorded sound effects,” Shaffer said. “The birds are pretty much always there.”
Her advice to audience members? “Ask yourselves what you would do under the same circumstances.”
Barbi England, who plays Diane, admits to having a dark side, and is enthusiastic about performing in “The Birds.”
“I have done mostly comedy,” England said, “so I welcomed the chance to stretch. I like the darkness. That’s why this play is so much fun for me — the stretch.”
“The Birds” has a definite dark side. “It’s a psychological thriller,” Brown said, adding that it’s probably appropriate for audiences 14 and older.
Brandon Hurd — “Nat”
Barbi England — “Diane”
Stacey Brown — “Julia”
Justin Germond — “Tierney”
IF YOU GO
“The Birds,” a drama by Conor McPherson
Astor Street Opry Company Playhouse (129 West Bond St.)
Performances: Friday, Oct. 6; Saturday, Oct. 7; Friday, Oct. 13; Saturday, Oct. 14; Sunday, Oct. 15; Friday, Oct. 20; Saturday, Oct. 21.
For Friday and Saturday shows, house opens at 6:30 p.m.; the show begins at 7 p.m. Sunday matinee begins at 2 p.m.
Tickets, $7 to $16, are on sale one hour before all shows. Call 503-325-6104 for tickets.
Reservations are recommended.