Monday, March 30, 2015

Stupid F**king Bird: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

Dev loves Mash who loves Con who loves Nina who loves Trig who loves himself more than Emma who loves herself a lot. So it went in Anton Chekhov's 19th Century Russia and so it goes in Aaron Posner's Americanized sort-of adaptation of Chekhov's "The Seagull," now called "Stupid F**king Bird."

It's the production that shines here. There is a play within a play, a fourth wall which is breached constantly to include audience participation, marvelous soliloquies and even some clever songs and dances. If Chekhov had seen "F**king Bird," he may have left the pistol in the drawer and come back the next night to see how it all turns out.

The cast shines, with each actor receiving his or her moment in the spotlight. El Beh is a perfectly depressed Mash, the Goth girl; Adam Magill the overwrought playwright who thinks the weight of the world is on his shoulders, but it's only his mother (an essay in self-absorption by Carrie Paff); Nina (Martha Brigham) is crazier than you think while Joseph Estlack's Dev has more staying power than even he expects. Rounding out the cast are Johnny Moreno as the Oh So Brilliant Trig and Charles Shaw Robinson as Sorn, the voice of reason. Naturally Sorn is the first to die.

Director Susi Damilano takes a lot of chances and most of them work. We've seen El Beh in lots of roles now and she is a fine actress, not 'just' a brilliant musician. James Sugg has given her some wonderfully silly songs to sing, and what a lovely choice to make the ukelele the instrumental voice of such woeful angst. The show is long, but not too long, and how often do we get to say that?

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Stupid F**king Bird" Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE. Acting, directing and writing earn one star each, while the BANGLE is for Magill's and Estlack's excellent repartee with the audience as Con begs us to tell him what he ought to do next. It is very difficult to burst through the curtain so many times without it starting to feel phony, but Damilano, Dev and Con pull it off.

Poor baby. Mom was right after all.

"Stupid F**king Bird"
San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post Street, San Francisco
Kensington Park Hotel, Second Floor
Through May 22

No comments: