Review: 'The Bird and Mr. Banks' at Lankershim Arts Center
A psychopathic accountant befriends a pregnant office secretary, and the two of them run away on an adventure that involves love, murder and ornithology.
There’s little about Keith Huff’s “The Bird and Mr. Banks” that could remotely be described as ordinary. This horror-comedy, produced by the Road Theatre Company, is a sustained piece of theatrical creepiness that features an inspired and unpredictable performance by Sam Anderson as a CPA who harbors a serious blood and bird obsession.
Following a bad breakup with her philandering boss, Miss O’Shaughnessy (Jenny Kern) tries to kill herself only to be saved by the elderly man-child Mr. Banks (Anderson). The unlikely couple shack up together in Mr. Banks’ old mansion, but when the young lady encounters a series of bloody corpses, their friendship plunges into a dark and twisted universe.
Anderson’s line readings constitute a master class of arrhythmic cadences and tipsy nuance. The actor (who has a recurring role on NBC’s “Lost”) builds his character through a series of whispery vocal inflections that can be disorienting at first, but soon reveal unexpected depths of psychology.
Directed by Mark St. Amant, the production pushes against the membrane of absurdity but never tears the delicate fabric. The lead actors share an effortless chemistry that powers the play through its few slack moments and sends it soaring through the magnificent conclusion.
Huff is a promising playwright who exhibits impressive command of dark humor and sick sensibilities. “The Bird and Mr. Banks” is a strange play, but its strangeness is comforting and ultimately inspiring.
-- David Ng
“The Bird and Mr. Banks,” Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays ; 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends March 21. $30. (866) 811-4111. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Caption: Sam Anderson and Jenny Kern in "The Bird and Mr. Banks." Credit: Matt Kaiser