BWW Review: STUPID F*ING BIRD Flies Above Everything That Matters

BWW Review: STUPID F*ING BIRD Flies Above Everything That Matters

"The title of the play is STUPID F*ING BIRD." "That'll sell some tickets!" So goes the dialogue in the newest play showing in the Howard Drew Theatre at the Omaha Community Playhouse. If you can move past the profane and sometimes impious language, here is what should sell tickets to Aaron Posner's modern take on Anton Chekhov's 1895 play, "The Seagull."

The acting. Suzanne Withem directs a superb cast of expressive actors. Beau Fisher as angst ridden playwright Conrad effortlessly scales the ladder of human emotion. His face, his body, his intonation all leave no doubt as to what is going through his tortured mind. Alissa Hanish as Nina, the would-be actress and object of Conrad's undying love is light as air (she flies like a seagull!) and is sublimely funny. Raydell Cordell III as pragmatic Dev is a likable, natural comedian with his chest rumbling laughter, wide smile, and fondness for food. Aanya Sagheer as Mash is emo to the bone with a surprisingly lovely singing voice. Sonia Keffer has perfectly captured the aging actress/cougar/selfish mother, Emma Arkadina, while Kevin Anderson is the epitome of the aloof and weak writer, Doyle Trigorin. Michael Markey as Dr. Eugene Sorn seems like the calm in the middle of the chaos until he pulls tears later with his melancholy reminiscing.

The movement. There are moments in the play where the characters weave in and out as if in a beautiful dance. Wai Yim does an excellent job of using movement to define feeling. The characters push off of each other, sorting out who loves whom. Of particular note is a scene between Fisher and Hanish that brilliantly depicts their turbulent and unequal relationship.

The interplay between the actors and the audience. Parts are unclear: is this scripted or is this adlib? Either way, it works.

The script itself...maybe not entirely. Parts are clever (and funny!) The interplay between Mash and Dev as they compete for whose life is the worst is reminiscent of Irving Berlin's song, "Anything You Can Do." Mash's song, "Disappointing," is darkly humorous. Nina's performance of Conrad's site-specific performance event "Here We Are" is silly ridiculousness and absolutely hilarious. Emma's dying hand is another gem, although it is yet another indication that her method of motherhood is to put herself in the spotlight. Other parts are bleak and hopeless. Not even Nina's hope dance can change that.

Symbolism and metaphors are abundant. Nina compares herself to a seagull, flying high above everything that matters.

This play is supposed to be about theatre. What is art? Is art good only if it sells tickets? Is the old form overshadowed by the new? Emma tells Nina she would do better in a play with a plot and character development. Conrad rejects his mother Emma's traditional acting form as phony and obsolete. What is phony and what is real? Are we being ourselves or what others expect of us? "They (the audience) know you're fictional," Dev says to Conrad. Was Hamlet right to ask, "To be or not to be?" Should the question have been, "To act or not to act?"

I argue that this play isn't about theatre. Theatre is a metaphor. This play is actually about love and relationships. Each person loves what they cannot have. Sometimes they win. Sometimes they lose. And sometimes they settle.

There is a lot to think about. Do we go on or do we stop the play?

Photo Credit: Colin Conces

Back: Raydell Cordell III

Center: Beau Fisher, Alissa Hanish, Kevin Anderson, Sonia Keffer, Michael Markey

Front: Aanya Sagheer

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From This Author Christine Swerczek

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