Theatre Jones: Fowl Language

by Jan Farrington | Friday, January 27, 2017

Con: “She’s never going to love me…is she?”
Dev: “No.”
Con: “Not ever, right?”
Dev: “Right. Not ever.”

“So much feeling!” The pleasurable surprise of Stupid Fucking Bird, Aaron Posner’s “sort of” adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, at Stage West for its regional premiere, is that the play is both blazingly clever and deeply emotional.

Posner could have soared most of the way on quips and wit alone—but lucky for us, he didn’t leave it at that. This bright new bird, done in 21st-century dress and with 21st century snark, is filled (stuffed?) from beak to tail with evocations of the human heart that don’t merely feel true. They feel recognizably, quiveringly Chekhovian: rueful and regretful, smiling on our dreams and ambitions (but mocking them too), painfully aware of life’s fragility—and of the cosmic “self-destruct” button counting down our moments. Just like Star Trek, as one character points out.

Altogether, Posner’s Bird is a gutsy and loveable pull-apart of Chekhov’s iconic play, given vivid life by director Emily Scott Banks and a cast well up to this word-playing, densely packed script. There are lines and conversations here well worth remembering (and bald, funny snatches of song from original music creator James Sugg), but coming so fast and furiously at times you’ll be leaning in to hear it all.

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