BIRDIE’S PIT STOP (On the Rocks): 2016 Fringe review 53

Some of the all-round excellent cast of BIRDIES PIT STOP, from front to back, L to R: Jenna Kuerzi, Katherine Perry, Campbell O’Hare, Aaron Palmer, and Joe Canuso. Photo by Ashton Carter.

Some of the all-round excellent cast of BIRDIES PIT STOP, from front to back, L to R: Jenna Kuerzi, Katherine Perry, Campbell O’Hare, Aaron Palmer, and Joe Canuso. Photo by Ashton Carter.

Playwright Haygen Brice Walker has given us another charming late night Fringe horror, BIRDIE’S PIT STOP (AND THE TRIBE OF QUEERS WHO FUCKED EVERYTHING UP). His setting this year is a rural bar in a podunk southern town (“red box, drop box, post box, and a Walmart”), where the caricatured rednecks are preparing an annual sacrificial ritual to appease the Great White Grizzly Stag (“the legend doesn’t even make sense,” as more than one character comments). Into this peculiar milieu drive four urban kids, “nuanced and Millennial and strange—and queer”, heading south on their way to a drag tournament.

Walker doesn’t aim for subtlety in the roasting humor of both Millennial political correctness and stereotypical southern backwardness, but he finds rich veins of comedy in his broad mine. But the production is brought to life by seriously committed comic performances from the nine-member cast (directed by Elaina Di Monaco), most notably Campbell O’Hare as the titular Birdie, Jenna Kuerzi as her hellfire sister on the hunt for the mythical stag, and Katherine Perry as the third sister, a gothed-out then possessed sacrificial lamb. The horror plot is well-crafted though thoroughly ridiculous and twee-ly self-conscious, and keeps our attention despite a two-hour-plus running time. (You’ll see much longer 45-minute plays this Fringe, but having a second act begin at 12:50pm feels overly demanding for such entertaining, light-hearted fare.) BYOB.

[The Pharmacy, 1300 S 18th Street] September 9-17, 2016; fringearts.com/birdies-pit-stop-tribe-queers-fucked-everything.

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.