Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

The Birds
Las Vegas Little Theatre
Review by Mary LaFrance

With Halloween around the corner, the Las Vegas Little Theatre turns its attention to things that scare us—specifically, Conor McPherson's The Birds, based the same Daphne du Maurier story as Alfred Hitchcock's famous film. In McPherson's play, however, the birds have already won, and humans have become a dwindling species who must choose between starving to death and venturing outside to take their chances with the insatiable predators.

Sandy Stein's sound design plays a starring role, with the sounds of birds screeching and thumping against the house in which our protagonists—Diane, Nat, and Julia—are desperately seeking refuge. The birds advance and retreat with the tides, giving the humans about six hours each day to forage for provisions in abandoned houses and gas stations before they are forced to seek shelter against the next wave of attacks.

McPherson's script, unfortunately, is full of holes and fails to deliver either the suspense or the thrills that one might expect from this juicy premise. This creates a significant challenge which director Kyle Jones and his cast cannot fully overcome. The strongest performance comes from Shawn Hackler as Nat, who from his first moment onstage—asleep like the dead, with his mouth slightly ajar—strikes a naturalistic tone that keeps the play grounded from beginning to end. McPherson's female characters are poorly developed, however, and while Jamie Carvelli does her best to make Diane into a fully fledged character, we never completely understand her motivations. As Julia, the most mysterious of the refugees, Shambrion Treadwell captures the character's ambiguity but lacks the realism of the other performers. As Tierney, the ham-handed and slightly forbidding neighbor from across the lake, Marty Weaver strikes a good balance between threat and pathos. His improvised head protection, a cross between a trash can and Darth Vader's helmet (inspired work by costume designer Rose Scarborough), provides welcome comic relief.

Evoking the comfortable interior of the besieged New England farmhouse, Ron Lindblom's set design serves the play well, and lighting designer Ginny Adams adds to the gloom and doom with a fine lightning storm.

The Birds continues through November 5, 2017, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays and Saturday, October 28, at 2pm, at the Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89103. For tickets ($24, or $21 for seniors and students) or further information, go to or call 702-362-7996.

Diane: Jamie Carvelli
Nat: Shawn Hackler
Julia: Shambrion Treadwell
Tierney: Marty Weaver

Additional Creative: Original music by Sandy Stein.