Written, Created and Directed by Tziporela
Off Broadway, New Comedy
Runs through 9.6.15
The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street
by Angel Lam on 7.20.15
Efrat Aviv in Odd Birdz. Photo from Tziporela.
BOTTOM LINE: Funny and fast-paced mini comedy skits performed by an ensemble of eight exhilarating actors.
This Israel-based ensemble will surprise and dazzle you in a multitude of ways using their array of acting skills. An admirable work of comedic sketches, they seem to flow endlessly and zealously, from a sensational, cinematic opening on different movie-going scenarios (performed by Efrat Aviv and Gal Friedman), to a blind-date using as few words as possible (performed by Tamara Klayngon and Gal Friedman), to a situational skit where a word propels a completely irrelevant new scene (performed Tamara Klayngon, Danny Isserless and Gal Friedman), to a “Sex and the City”-like girl-talk scene (performed Lotus Etrog, Naama Amit, Efrat Aviv and Tamara Klayngon) using only one word (or sound) per line.
I enjoyed their play of unexpectedness, where one gesture does not need to connect to the next. When an exuberant actor comes spinning on stage for no reason, she is actually setting up a romantic dinner for two, but you will be surprised how this turns into a contortionist’s foot-puppet show. Or, a familiar ensemble of judges from one of those mega-hit talent show turns out to be (spoiler alert) the performers themselves! The group does fantastically well with their comedic timing and creative break-neck-speed scene changes.
Odd Birdz also amplifies and explores awkward situations, makes political comments, and even occasionally mocks themselves. An “audience” member (Gal Friedman) suddenly calls out the show as “Off-Off-Off-Off Broadway,” turns out she is a “school teacher” and we will see some drama between her and her husband (Tomer Nahir Petluk and Gal Friedman). Some skits recur throughout the hour and a half show, some do not, but especially memorable are the love-hate singer-songwriter duo (Ben Perry and Naama Amit), the comedic graveyard mourning scene turned cat-fights (with Naama Amit and Efrat Aviv), and a heart-warming gender convention story told through T-shirts (Danny Isserless and Lotus Etrog).
The multifaceted cast is outstanding. I found myself wishing that some of these sketches could link in meaningful, storytelling ways; it would make this already superb show truly phenomenal. There is much to be savored even after the show when the troupe goes onto the street waving audience members, serenading with their songs.
(Odd Birdz plays at The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, through September 6, 2015. Performances are Thursdays at 7; Fridays and Saturdays at 7 and 10; and Sundays at 2 and 5. Tickets are $45-$75 and are purchased at tziporela.com.)