BWW REVIEW: STUPID FUCKING BIRD Sees Chekhov Adapted For A New Generation Whilst Heightening The Pretention OF The Work
Friday 13th July 2018, 7:30pm, New Theatre
Warwick Dodrell's (Director) presentation of Aaron Posner's adaptation of Anton Chekov's THE SEAGULL sees the work further deconstructed to deliver a very modern interpretation with STUPID FUCKING SEAGULL. The streamlined cast and utilitarian space deliver a comic extrapolation of the love story presented with artistic self-importance as it makes fun of the artform.
Jeremy Allen (Set Designer) delivers a very basic space where almost everything is on show inkeeping with the premise of the play which strips back the artifice and considers the relevance of the art on display. A series of mobile high benches come together to form the lakeside jetty and the kitchen benches whilst clothes racks and basic commercial chairs border the stage. A large bathing box shaped object serves as the only part of the set that seems more show specific with its multiple use and intriguing utilisation. Ellen Stanistreet and Jane Hughes' costuming is also relatively simple to enable changes onstage and reinforce the contemporary setting, from the goth punk inspired Mash (Annie Stafford) to the pretentious aging actress Emaa Arkadina's (Kaitlyn Thor) fur coat and bustier/bodysuit. The overbearing electro rock sound design (Ben Pierpoint and Mary Rapp) and the jarring flashes of bright white light in the lighting design (Veronique Benett) however don't always serve the story, causing a distraction rather than furthering the plot or enhancing the experience.
STUPID FUCKING BIRD is aligned quite closely to THE SEAGULL as it follows the love web between the poor Dev (Lloyd Allison-Young) who pines after the moody Mash (Annie Stafford) who is infatuated with Conrad (Mansoor Noor) who is entranced by his aspiring actress Nina (Megan Smart) who is in turn obsessed with older writer Doyle Trigorin (Gil Balfas) who is in a relationship with Conrad's mother Emma Arkadina (Kaitlyn Thor). The only character that is seemingly not caught up in the round-a-bout of broken hearts is Emma's brother, Dr Eugene Sorn (Brendan Miles). Woven within the play, there is the play that Conrad writes and Nina performs, much to the scorn of 'real' actress Emma, along with the performers coming 'out' of the play to talk directly to the audience, sharing their 'thoughts' on the artistic process
The performances are all incredibly strong with work and the direction they have been given and the story settles more with time as the premise of the stepping out of the story becomes clearer. Standouts come from Annie Stafford, Mansoor Noor and Lloyd Allison-Young who capture the non-verbal expressions brilliantly. Stafford's disinterested angsty young adult is brilliant in her dismissal of Dev and eventual resignation that she may as well settle for the lovelorn dork. Unfortunately Posner did not chose to update the play to represent the modern world's view of women not needing a man to survive in the world though which would be more aligned with Mash's character. Allison-Young delivers a wonderfully pathetic pining friend who is really too nice to make waves, wanting to please everyone whilst Noor presents an artistic pretention and brooding when he doesn't get the recognition he wants from his mother or the girl of his dreams.
Aside from the quibbles about sound and lighting, STUPID FUCKING BIRD is an intriguing play that would also hold a greater appeal for those in the arts industry as it pokes fun and mocks the premise of art and the pretention that sometimes surrounds it's creation
12 - 28 July 2018