BWW Reviews: STUPID FUCKING BIRD at Woolly Mammoth Presents an Unforgettable Remount
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present a review of (if you haven't guess it already) a show that is clearly meant for older audiences. They don't have to be mature. The characters in it certainly aren't. But they do have to be prepared for frequent use of the f word and existential considerations. But don't worry. This show is hilarious, and it is excellent.
STUPID FUCKING BIRD remixes Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, bringing it into a time that has cell phones, electric guitar and Downton Abbey. At its dark, broken heart, the story is the same. Con, a writer (BRAD KOED) searches for art while rebeling against the traditional theatre allure that has made his mother (KATE EASTWOOD NORRIS) famous.
Those surrounding him struggle to understand the paths of their lives, whether it be love or just evaluating their memories ("What happened to my forties?").There is a lot in this show that could be (and is) very heavy. And yet, despite the drinking and wailing, this play really moves.
Aaron Posner's script offers a tongue in cheek updated version of Chekhov. He makes you laugh, and in an instant, makes even the worst character relatable. His references are modern and witty, and he gives the audience a truly interactive show. The fourth wall is shattered nearly instantly, since the characters are all intently aware of where they exist. Cheers to this company of actors, who rolled with the audience's responses parlously, and to Posner for one of the most unpredictable yet intriguing scripts you'll see.
And you get to see it in a stellar space. Set Designer Misha Kachman makes it look as though these sets have lived and evolved within the theatre's walls. It is steampunk yet inviting, dark yet glamorous. During the first act, the stage displays Chekhov, lights, curtains, and the setup of a backyard. The second act involves a giant kitchen piece, and the third a large living room.
Lighting Designer Colin K. Bills casts appropriate shadows, making you feel as though you're in the rooms at that exact point of day or night. While you may not be accustomed to a character having no light around or on him, this was eerily appropriate. The lighting, script and portrayals make the second act, placed in the middle of the night, a lovely tryst of fantasy, reality, and the regrettably forgotten.
Posner's actors are unwaveringly talented. Their comedic timing is to the letter, and each character shows full range of the inner crises they are facing. To praise one individually would take away from the fact that it is an unfallible ensemble, each of them clearly meant for their parts. If you want to see superior acting, again, see STUPID FUCKING BIRD.
If their preview remount of the 35th season is any indication of what's to come, Woolly Mammoth will be a powerhouse over the next year. Grab tickets now for STUPID FUCKING BIRD, and count down the seconds until you are fully and completely in the audience and the action of this wonderful, dynamic, and visceral show.
STUPID FUCKING BIRD runs at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company through August 17th. It is 2 hours and 30 minutes long, with one intermission. For more information, visit their production page.
Photo credit: Stan Barouh