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Playwright Ellen McLaughlin’s flock of self-conscious metaphors weighs down “Tongue of a Bird” so much the production at the Next Rep Black Box Festival is barely able to get off the ground.
McLaughlin uses the character of a search-and-rescue pilot named Maxine (Elizabeth Anne Rimar) to explore the intense connection between mothers and daughters and the power of love and loss. The story revolves around Maxine’s return to her childhood home in the Adirondacks, where she’s been hired to search for a girl missing in the snowy mountains. Her chosen profession, in which she has a 100 percent success rate, stands in stark contrast to her ability to find and resolve her feelings about her mother, who committed suicide when she was young.