by Kristen Schweizer
February 14, 2023
February 2023 is a hot month for San Diego theatre, with a show opening at nearly every playhouse in town. I am seeing seven shows in this short month, and – so far – my favorite is Birds of North America at Moxie Theatre. The woman+-run company chose the perfect cast for a powerful script.
The 90-minute play takes place in a wooded backyard. The stage lights rise to a man and woman peering through binoculars directly at the audience, but it is us in the seats who are the voyeurs in a series of intimate conversations spanning over a decade.
John (played by Mike Sears) is a birding enthusiast, while his adult daughter, Caitlyn (played by Fara Dinga), has only recently begun the hobby. The two watch the trees and skies for feathered friends while discussing – and not discussing – their lives, loves, and losses through the years. It is the pair’s chemistry and tenuous moments between the lines which lend realism to the poetic dialogue and ratchets up the stakes through each scene.
Playwright Anna Ouyang Moench is a prolific writer for the screen and stage who worked on Apple TV+’s acclaimed Severance series. Her expertise shows in the terrific pacing, within chatter which ranges from miscarriage to climate change to “how to fix soccer” without losing sight of what is being said – and not said – under their words. The loose plot is woven slowly, then tightens into a strong cathartic climax deserving of a standing ovation.
Bravo to the entire cast and crew, especially Mike Sears. He originally played John when this script debuted as part of UC San Diego’s Wagner New Play Festival in 2017, and his years with this character show in an utterly heart-rending performance. Additionally, Robin Sanford Robert’s transportive set is as true and gorgeous as this powerful story.
Moxie Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director, Jennifer Eve Thorn, prepares to take flight to new opportunities in June 2023. She is the final company founder on staff, and San Diego owes her tremendous gratitude for her leadership, art, work, and choices. Vanguard Culture sends well wishes to the phenomenal committee of women working to hire the next woman+ to fill Thorn’s heels at the helm of this important San Diego theater.
SAN DIEGO PREMIERE | FEB 5 – MAR 5, 2023
By Anna Ouyang Moench | Directed by Lisa Berger
Note: $15 RUSH tickets are available online and at the Box Office 1 hour before each performance.