“Brilliantly original” is the first phrase that comes to mind when watching Broom Street Theater’s production of “Seeking Flight.” A play written by Joan Broadman and directed by Malissa Lamont and Heather Renken, the show displays the complexity of decision making and how the choices we make can ultimately set us free.
Monty and Enzi, two African Grey parrots, are being used for experiments on behalf of their owner, Sandra. Sandra’s goal of achieving 10-year status at her research facility shields her from seeing her emotional errors with her animals, which are brought to light by journalist Kate, who interviews Sandra repeatedly about her experiments.
Monty, born and raised in captivity, does not understand the concept of true freedom. That is, until Enzi comes along and tells Monty of the brilliant adventures he had in the jungle before being captured and taken from his home.
Monty at first does not understand why the jungle is such a fantastic place to be, but Enzi’s stories convince him of the wonder and amazement outside the lab walls. Monty’s and Enzi’s stories unfold, telling of their different pasts, horrifying present and hopeful future. The four-person-ensemble features veteran BST performers Luke Kokinos as Monty, Joe Lutz as Enzi, Jan Levine Thal as Sandra and introduces Lindsey Hoel Neds as Kate.
One of many well-recognized Joan Broadman productions, “Seeking Flight” brings together the complex movement of time and the contrast between hope and fear. Through various creative techniques like intertwined musical interludes, poetic intervals and sarcastic commentary, Enzi and Monty become more than two simple parrots trapped in a world that is not their own. Kokinos and Lutz shine brightly throughout this production. Kokinos begins the show with his simple parrot-speak which makes for an interesting introduction to the character of Monty. Through the rest of the show, Kokinos develops Monty with intricate vocabulary and thoughtful questions, showing exactly how the parrot is escaping his past and moving toward his future.
Lutz does not quite meet the bar set by Kokinos, but his performance still wows and intrigues by leaving some room for personal characterization by the audience. Lutz presents Enzi as a very snooty, privileged member of the show; however, as the story progresses and more of Enzi’s past comes alive, Lutz’s spectrum of emotion erupts and reminds everyone why we still appreciate live theater. From sarcastic laughing to intellectually pleasing poetry to near-death experiences and sobbing,
Enzi and Lutz as a unit captures the distance between hope from the past and fear of the future. Lutz’s one major flaw was his lack of memorization. He made many mistakes made throughout the performance with rhythm in songs, line mishaps and jumbling of words. Needless to say, while the role was incredibly versatile and well-presented, the basics could have used some more rehearsal.
The less-highlighted roles of Sandra and Kate helped to show the major character gap between a nearly emotionless character with selfish goals and an overly emotional one with her eyes set on the safe future of others. Sandra, portrayed by Jan Levine Thal, was a rough character throughout the show. Her lines were well delivered, but lost meaning with a slightly monotone and overly rhythmic presentation. A few minor problems with line memory made for a performance that could be greatly improved by Thal.
Lindsey Hoel Neds, on the other hand, debuting in the role of Kate made me incredibly excited to see her in other larger roles in the future. Though the role of Kate was minor, each line was strong in its delivery and met with equivalent body language and emotion. Neds performed near the top in the small cast, outshining her more experienced co-stars and bringing to life a role that could have easily been lost in the complex story acting above it.
Overall, “Seeking Flight” is an incredibly unique work of art. Though unconventional in its content, the presentation was well done and the performance was relatively good as a whole. With a few more rehearsals, I believe that this show could take off much like many of Broadman’s other novelties. “Seeking Flight” is playing at Broom Street Theater on Williamson Street, Thursday to Saturday at 8p.m. through November 10th.