BWW Review: STUPID FUCKING BIRD at Théâtre Des Capucins

BWW Review: STUPID FUCKING BIRD at Théâtre Des Capucins

Last Thursday, the Th''tre des Capucins welcomed the play Stupid Fucking Bird, a comedy adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. The show premiered on the 11th of January and will be running until the 23rd. With a script adapted by Aaron Posner and directed by Anne Simon, the cast offered the audience two hours of humorous entertainment, with a refreshing and light-hearted take on some deep questions of human existence. The plot is centered around a tragicomic chain of unrequited love, which ultimately brings several of the characters to the fringes of self-awareness, self-doubt and self-control.

At the end of this unfortunate chain we have poor Dev (Matthew Brown), a good-hearted young man who only has eyes for his friend Mash (Catherine Elsen). Given her dark, philosophical and depressive nature, Dev's extreme kindness and simplicity make her incapable of loving him back. Brown was the funniest actor on stage, knowing exactly how to use his character's nature and personality to turn his lines into a constant source of humour. Elsen gave us a very solid performance, always interacting with great chemistry with other members of the cast, but it was, at times, hard to understand what Mash was all about. We had to be told that her character was rather gloomy and depressive, because very few of her interventions allowed for her personality to be defined as such. It felt a bit like Mash was more used to help with the progression of the plot than to have an active role in the play, a choice that ended up not doing her justice. This is particularly ironic, since at the end of the show she observes one of the greatest character developments.

BWW Review: STUPID FUCKING BIRD at Théâtre Des Capucins
Trigorin and Nina

To further demoralize Dev, he has too deal with the sad reality that Mash is hopelessly in love with his best friend Con (Isaac Bush), as aspiring playwright who can only think of his work and his charming muse, the actress Nina (Elisabet Johannesdottir). This is where things get complicated. While Nina does love him back, she is too fascinated with the concept of fame and the glamour of show-business to not feel an uncontrollable attraction for Trigorin (Owen Sharpe), an acclaimed author, when he visits the estate. Trigorin is a well-spoken charmer with genuine literary talent, who has recently started a relationship with Con's mother, Emma (Rita Reis). Emma, a successful actress who is increasingly aware of the weight her age will have in her career and love life, was never a caring mother, nor good at not feeling in control. This behaviour is very often observed in her interaction with Trigorin, with her son and even with her brother, Sorn (Raoul Schlechter).

Bush was great as Con, expressing very well the reactions of an idealistic young man and unloved son to the bitterness of a lost relationship. He was very comfortable in his interaction with the audience and executed brilliantly the moments when his body language had to speak louder than his words. Johannesdottir had the tough (and age-old) task of playing an actress who is not great at acting, while making her believably progress from a rather naive and nervous girl with dreams to a half broken woman who knows she has failed at what she loves the most. This character's progression was the most interesting, and Johannesdottir managed to meet the challenge with both grace and soul.

BWW Review: STUPID FUCKING BIRD at Théâtre Des Capucins
The cast

Sharpe's Trigorin was a tricky one. This character was mostly about what others thought of him, and how they acted around him. Sharpe was very good in his performance, getting many laughs from the audience in a role that was not obviously comic or even very active on stage. But while the acting was great, it somehow did not feel like that sort of presence and mannerisms fit the character itself. There is a sort of attractive aura around this man, and he is not only supposed to know that that aura exists - at some point, despite his initial philosophical views on fame, he is supposed to act on it, and have his way year after year. His funny and cheerful interventions would have been perfectly fine as they were, if the play had assumed it was just a spoof of The Seagull, as it originally seemed to be. But, as the show progressed, it also became a bit darker, investing a good deal on the atmosphere around Con's depression and suicide attempt. Every character seemed to adjust to this mood, except Trigorin, who remained on the same playful tone of the first half of the play. Just like with Mash, this note is not on the performance of the artist, but more on how Trigorin ended up being articulated in the unfolding of the plot.

As Nina gets closer to Trigorin, her beauty and charm lead the writer to succumb to temptation and start an affair with the young actress. Emma takes some time to admit this reality, but eventually confronts the two and declares why no woman will ever be as good for him as her, who can truly accept him for who he is and help him channel his talent into works of art. Despite the eloquence of her speech, the two elope, devastating the family. Reis was a great casting choice. She managed to be everything this character could be - annoying, entitled, high pitched, funny, hateful, pitiful, elegant, philosophical, powerful and broken - and yet not overdo any of these features, making them instead function together in a personality that was actually believable. This is usually a very risky bet, but Reis really managed to pull it off. As for Schlechter's Sorn, it was a pity to not see more of him, since he did seem like a great performer. The quiet and passive nature of the good doctor, and the fact that he was not part of this love chain, eventually had to make his character more secondary, yet his monologues and humorous interventions always managed to enrich the play.

If you are familiar with the classics and wish to have some fun with a refreshing take on a great work of literature, do not hesitate to buy a ticket while they are still available.

Image credit: Boshua

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From This Author David Sousa Lopes

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