IndyFringe: Honk Squawk Love

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

In the Beginning, God allows Satan to create the ultimate nuisance for Man, the dreaded Branta Canadensis (a/k/a Canada goose).

At least this is what Abigail believes. She hates these foul waterfowl, which infest every parking lot and corporate park — and they hate her, triggering her terror. It’s bad enough that events have taken her from a teaching job she enjoys to occupying a cubicle in a corporate processing center, but also the path to her workplace is beset by one of these horrid creatures, which gives chase. Then one day, Chris, a nonplussed IT tech outside on a smoke break, stands up to the goose. Man and bird lock eyes, and something changes.

I must curse the genius of playwright and director Paige Scott, who, in her comic drama, “Honk Squawk Love,” actually gets me — and other otherwise rational people — to feel for a damn Canada goose. We also see the struggle of Abigail (Elysia Rohn) as we learn not only of her phobia but also her recent backstory, which left another deep emotional scar. And we learn about Chris (Tyler Lyons) as he comes to understand more of himself through his unlikely and oddly tender relationship with the bird they call Lucy (Courtney McClure Murray).

This is an outstanding short play, possibly the best show of this year’s Fringe. The story unfolds with genuine feeling as the humans’ bizarre circumstance brings on needed changes and growth. Rohn proves a reliable narrator, even of her own pain. Lyons gives what starts as a loner-nerd caricature, dimension and likability. And Murray masterfully moves and squawks as a sort of full-body puppet with her arm the graceful neck of our heroine, Lucy. We even feel comfortable with the absurd conversations between Chris and his avian friend (perhaps it’s just hashing things out with himself as the goose honks along, but Scott’s script puts it through his perception).

If at all possible, you must see this, playing at the District Theatre. Don’t let any bird stand in your way, Tippy.

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