Theatre: Stupid Fucking Bird

Chekhov is brought to the 21st Century in irreverent, hilarious and poignantly sincere style in Aaron Posner’s award winning adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, now playing at the Metanoia Theatre. Stupid Fucking Bird takes a liberal interpretation of the Russian text, excising chunks of unnecessary plot and squeezing two or more characters into one. But the core of the story remains the same: a battle of old and new, past and future; an exploration of art, love and the purpose of either; a search for the meaning of happiness.

The modernization of the classic sees Dev loving Mash, Mash loving Con, Con loving Nina, Nina loving Trig, Trig loving Emma and Emma loving…Emma? The love hexagon is only half the story and is used as both backdrop to and means of exploring the bigger issues that surround the characters. An aspiring director rebels against his mother and her generation’s art while standing in the shadow of a man more famous, more talented and more loved than he. An old man gets up every morning to live the life he didn’t want. A young actress falls for the wrong man and into disgrace.

Each character in the play is finely wrought and gratifyingly complex: a fully formed person with all the nuance that entails. Each actor is spectacular in their realization of Chekhov and Posner’s characters, bringing vitality and honesty to their roles and further blurring the real/unreal divide through sheer believability. Michael Mack is a perfect Con – intense, moody and the picture of the suffering artist, his monologues are particularly affecting. Cait Spiker, playing his love interest Nina is also sublime and one of her scenes in particular, towards the end of the play, visibly shook the audience. My particular favourite however, was Dylan Watson, whose Dev was heartbreaking and hilarious all at once. Watson’s subtlety and light touch prevented his character, who often served as comic relief, from becoming something to laugh at. Instead, Dev (and Sorn, played by David Ross Patterson, come to think of it) remind us of the devastating joke of real life – and to laugh at it. While each actor deserves accolades and superlatives aplenty, brevity requires me to limit my gushing.

Stupid Fucking Bird is fourth wall- and heart-breaking; a beautiful, funny, insightful and near perfect piece of theatre. It’s playing until February 26th at the Mechanics Institute.

Score: 9/10

Director: Peter Blackburn

Featuring: Michael Mack, Cait Spiker, Carla Bonner, Nathan Sapsford, Hannah Greenwood, Dylan Watson, David Ross Paterson

Written by: Aaron Posner, based on Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull

Stupid F**king Bird
 Mechanics Institute, 270 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Season: 8 – 26 February 2017

 

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