'Birds' provides timely humor

Escaping the hustle and bustle of congested city life is something many people today dream about. Taking a break from the crime, politics and current events in order to seek out a place where the days consist of tranquility and peace would appeal to most. Aristophanes' Birds is a play first performed in 414 B.C., but the theme is a timeless one. In today's world, you can escape for just a little while with "Birds," as presented by Steamer No. 10 theater in Albany's Westland Hills park.

The story tells of two men who decide to escape from an Athens that has traded peace for another war, and with it more laws, taxes, and debts. They flee to the realm of the birds where they found a new utopian state that is set in the sky. The cast of birds, gods, and Athenians vie for control of the town and tariffs. The two lead characters, Ready and Happy, are played by Mark Stewart and Dav Freedman.

Stewart performs in local and regional theater and independent films. Recent stage credits include The Bogle in Witandwill's production of "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" and Dan White in Three Dollar Bill's Production of "Odd Man Out."

"I am proud and excited to be part of the venue's flagship summer production," said Stewart.

Freedman works as an artist, novelist, director and actor. His achievements include the director of Footprints Productions, a summer and after-school enrichment program where he has taught theater and art for over 20 years.

Other performers include Ted DeBonis as Tereus, the leader of the birds and Carol Charniga as Owl. Both performers have experience performing in the Capital District as well as Massachusetts and New York City.

Steamer No. 10 is named after the former fire station that it is housed in and opened in 1991. The station underwent a $300,000 renovation and now seats 120 people. There are five shows a year with the support of grants from the New York State Council in the Arts and Verizon Wireless. Plays rely on audience participation and offers unique entertainment. Steamer No.10 targets younger audiences for the majority of its performances, with the exception of some plays such as "Birds," a play with witty humor and themes intended for a more mature audience. Artistic Director Fiona Thompson said the visuals and costumes are incredible.

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