From birds to pioneers to young girls, The Mormon Bird Play is a series of sketches with a through story about a young mute girl named Ivona and her journey to baptism. Along the way, the allegoric dream concept explores the history of the Mormon religion. As writer and director, Benington certainly has a vision. If you have difficulty processing this play, you're not alone. The script is quite thorough and poetic but occasionally difficult to follow. While the focus is primarily on Ivona, it shifts over to Evan's story. Though they do intersect, it gets a bit blurred. The play is a morality play about faith and identity with two young characters on opposite sides of the spectrum. Despite Ivona being the focal point of the characters’ discussion, it’s Evan’s journey that is truly more appealing. When the play moves into the dream concept, the energy explodes and the comedy truly shines.
Roger Benington had his hands completely full wearing three hats for the production. As writer, director, and scenic and costume designer, Benington ensured his vision was perfectly executed. From a design stand point, Benington created a visually stimulating world for his characters to live in. With perhaps the exception of Jordan Parente’s Brenda’s costume, an ill colored burlap sack looking dress, the costumes fit the characters and the actors quite well. The simplicity of the scenic design, including a piece of fabric that could be pulled on a clothes line allowed lighting designer Philip Treino to do wonders with color and mood.
The Mormon Bird Play is a polarizing work. It’s smart and unique but occasionally prevents the audience to enter the world without previous knowledge of the said world. Where The Mormon Bird Play shines is through the pictures Benington creates on stage.