There are home invasions and then there are home invasions.
The Good Night Bird, at The Centaur until March 22 is a preposterous, heterosexual twist on James Kirkwood’s gay comedy, P.S. Your Cat Is Dead. (Yes, there is a role for a dead cat in this show too.) In Colleen Murphy’s screwball version of the Kirkwood tale a mentally unstable, filthy vagrant bent on killing himself hits the balcony of a high rise and winds up, instead, in the bedroom of an emotionally alienated married couple where he breathes new life into their sedentary relationship.
If you accept the premise that it is perfectly normal for a bourgeois couple to allow an intruder to take a bath and clean himself up in their immaculate bathroom without calling 911 for help you will be mesmerized, if not exactly moved by the evening. Then you have to make a lead of faith and accept that this bearded wild man has the soul of a poet who quotes Emerson while gazing at the stars.
Whatever the drawbacks of Murphy’s script you can’t, howver, help but admire the three actors who pull this off-kilter exercise together and make it work.
Nicola Cavendish happily returns to the Centaur stage with the best lines. She gives a frisky, full blooded performance as Lilly Beaumont. Christopher Hunt as Morgan, her disconnected husband who has recently suffered a heart attack, and finds solace in his collection of skin magazines, has resignation plastered all over face. Graham Cuthbertson is alternatively menacing and seductive as Parker, the allegorical fallen angel who drops in from the sky and shatters the deceptively smooth surface of their lives. At one point Cuthbertson storms the stage in total unabashed and full-frontal nudity. He may be frightening as he jumps up and down on the bed in unabashed flower-child glee, but he eventually wins us over with his guttural, animal magnetism as a harmless “lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.”
All three characters are slightly mad , wounded by their battered souls and imprisoned by their pasts.
Director Roy Surette, working in collaboration with West Vancouver’s Kay Meek Centre, injects a light touch into what is essentially a dark comedy. Pam Johnson’s set, a comfortable bedroom where domestic comfort is not to be found, is beautifully detailed.
The Good Night Bird may not be everybody’s idea of a play. But if you were around when “everything disappeared into peace signs and acid, and still buy into the notion that there is a bit of hippie at the heart of all of us, this co-production of The Good Night Bird flies.