“The Hummingbirds” at NJ Repertory is a comedy of menace

"The Hummingbirds" Two people sitting at a desk with red lights in the background
"The Hummingbirds" Photos by: Andrea Phox Photography

NJ Rep presents The Hummingbirds, and it does not ask to be seen; it insists

"The Hummingbirds" Two people standing on each side of a room
“The Hummingbirds” Photos by: Andrea Phox Photography

Playwright Garret Jon Groenveld has created a scary, funny look at a possible future world in The Hummingbirds, having its United States premiere at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch. It is a play that will disturb some, but that is part of the territory when a playwright creates a world that pulsates with its own dystopian life.

The two-person cast, Sophia Lucia Parola and Michael Irvin Pollard are co-workers in an employment agency. Society’s motto is, “If you can walk, you can work,” and if one has been unemployed for too long, the agency will assign you a job, whether you like it or want it or not. The authorities have so drained lives of wit and individuality that the twists and tangles required to get through a day are often hilariously absurd.

This is a world where one is actively discouraged from becoming familiar with one’s co-workers. Where government employees must report their activities up the hierarchy before an immutable evening deadline daily. Where the pleasures of life must be approved or licensed.

What becomes of those forced to live like that? Could you, if you had to? Would you?

The cast is expertly directed through this nightmare future scenario by SuzAnne Barabas, Artistic Director of NJ Repertory Company. NJ Rep’s design team has created a mostly gray, worn-down world in the sets by Jessica Parks and the costumes of Patricia Doherty, with stark lighting designed by Jill Nagle and an evocative, inventive soundscape created by Nick Simone.

The Hummingbirds pulls you in and refuses to let you go until the very end, the hallmark of powerful writing. It is a dark ride through a twisted, haunted future. It does not ask to be seen; it insists — forcefully — on being seen. 

The Hummingbirds… Just go.

The Hummingbirds is presented by the New Jersey Repertory Company at their theater in Long Branch through August 28th.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.njrep.org or call 732-229-3166.  The theater requires the wearing of masks while in the building.

Allen Neuner
Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first Broadway play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. Allen has been accepted into the American Theatre Critics Association, a professional organization of theatre journalists. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.