The Conference of the Birds

Oct. 23—Nov. 25 $30–$68
Folger Elizabethan Theatre
201 E. Capitol St. SE, Washington, DC
Map
(202) 544-7077
The Conference of the Birds is a Sufi mystic’s meditation on the search for the divine, but if that sounds passive, the show is anything but. Built in part around tall tales of cruel kings and lovestruck princesses, it’s narrated by a wise hoopoe (played with notes of wonder and sadness by Patty Gallagher), who gathers a multitude of birds—from the timid sparrow to the proud falcon to the vainglorious peacock—and marshals them for an urgent journey. Led by director Aaron Posner and choreographer Erika Chong Shuch—working, presumably, in tight coordination with musician Tom Teasley, whose insinuating polyrhythms inform everything about the evening—the ensemble creates ravishing stage pictures: a sensuous duet for that passion-addled princess and the slave she’s mad for, wildly colorful swirls of avian chaos as the flock battles a windstorm, a sweeping gesture by an astrologer that dashes an entire cosmos to dust in an instant. (TG)

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