Writer and solo performer Rachel Parker shares her deeply moving and darkly funny childhood experiences – those events which helped shape her into the competent and independent adult of today. Rachel’s story began in small-town American in the 1980s – a period of promise but also of trauma. Try as she might, Rachel is unable to please mom, the immovable and intractable Gladys who is the empress of the household with a husband and two daughters who had better love her – or else. Life’s path is paved with eggshells, and Rachel must find her way through or cease to exist.
THE WOLFE & THE BIRD tells the story of a child who can’t get it right, a child who is neglected and emotionally abused in a household marked by the intense denial of the realities of everyday existence. She is the scapegoat of the family, a kid who takes risks every day just to survive. But Rachel also maintains an inherent sense of balance, a modicum of humor, to temper the hazards she faces daily. And also a child who will plan and execute her eventual escape from a home dominated by fear.
Child abuse statistics in the U.S. are staggering. Every year, there are more than 3.6 million referrals to child protective agencies involving more than 6.6 million children. In fact, the U.S. has one of the worst records among industrial nations and loses four to seven children every day to child abuse. It is estimated that one in seven child in the U.S. experienced abuse/neglect in the past year. Even more disturbing are statistics from 2018 which indicated that 76% of all child abuse perpetrators was a parent – and the fact that 80% of child maltreatment fatalities involved at least one parent as perpetrator.
Rachel Parker manages to take these shocking statistics and make them very personal as she recounts her own harrowing experiences in a home marked by child maltreatment. She draws a painful and poignant picture of her struggles with competence and talent, involving the audience intimately in her odyssey. She is ably assisted by director Alina Phelan, who helms the tricky project with compassionate skill. The production features the voices of James Heaney, Dagney Kerr, Ivory Tiffin, Madeleine Townsend, Phil Ward, and Silvie Zamora, who take part as various relatives, friends, and acquaintances as Rachel is growing up. The production is further enhanced by Matt Richter’s light and Stephen Epstein’s sound.
This is a production which brings a frightening story to light, the tale of vulnerable children who are neglected and/or abused by the persons who are supposed to protect them. Let’s hope that throwing light on an often hidden family topic will result in a better life for all. Pandemic precautions have been observed, and both proof of vaccination and masks during the performance are required. Admittance is limited to age 12+.
THE WOLFE & THE BIRD runs through October 10, 2021, with performances at 2 p.m. on Saturday 10/9/21 and Sundays on 9/19/21, 9/26/21, 10/3/21, and 10/10/21, as well as at 8 p.m. on Saturdays on 9/19/21, 9/26/21, 10/3/21, and 10/10/21. The Matrix Theatre is located at 7657 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets are $18. For information and reservations, go online.