Sean Baek (left), Sanjay Talwar and Elizabeth Morris wing it in Bird Brain.
BIRD BRAIN by Vern Thiessen (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, 165 Front East). To December 30. See Continuing.
Vern Thiessen's Bird Brain is a really cheep production - and I mean that in a positive way.
When a poor woodcutter (Sanjay Talwar) takes a nest of orphaned baby birds under his hat to protect them from wintry weather, he forgets about one of his country's laws: on Hat Street, he's required to doff his hat to anyone he meets.
Because of his charges he won't do so, and insults the queen's sneering Undersecretary (Sean Baek), who fines him and won't pay his woodcutting salary. Things worsen: the man's nicknamed Bird Brain, loses his wife and ultimately confronts the queen (Elizabeth Morris) with his chapeau problem.
Director Ruth Madoc-Jones's playful production has the three actors doing double duty, signing in ASL while they act. The signing, more concept- than word-based, gives the show an extra visual richness.
Kimberly Purtell's atmospheric lighting is magical, while Lyon Smith's sound design includes lots of chirping. You couldn't ask for a more evocative design than that by Patrick Du Wors: a set of bare, snowy, wintry trees, a milliner's travelling van and bright costumes that include bird-plumed hats.
One caveat: the show's advertised as being for ages three to eight, but some of the second half's long-winded exposition won't hold the attention of younger viewers.