Stupid Fucking Bird

By Aaron Posnersideshow theatre

Sort of adapted from The Seagull by Anton Chekhov

Directed by Jonathan L. Green

Produced by Sideshow Theatre Company

At the Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, Chicago

Extremely self-awake drama sort of unfolds as a parody of Chekhov, sort of

When attempting to parody a classical work like Chekhov’s The Seagull, be sure not to over produce and utilize too many theatrical gimmicks so as not to so distract your audience’s focus. That sure is the case with Jonathan L. Green’s staging of Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird.  Film and TV use the camera to determine what we focus on while theatre allows the audience to focus on what either catches our attention or is thrust upon them. That became a problem with Stupid Fucking Bird since while Katy Caroline Collins’ mumbled (almost incoherently) into a microphone as she sang and played her ukulele while on both wings, other actors talked and moved about distracting many in the audience including me. Why?

sideshow theatre

Next,  actors come forward to let us know that the play is beginning. Fine and it does start with angst-ridden whining  as the parody of Chekhov unfolds. Players remunerate about how unhappy there are as they spend their time suffering through life loving and hating each other while making several bird-based metaphors while employing many”fuck’s” into their conversations. While there is humor and clever word play and engrossing performances (particularly from Nate Wheldon as Con), I found the totality of Stupid Fucking Bird too gimmicky, too long  with too many needles usage of the word “fuck.’ Okay, we get it the first dozen or so times but why keep beating us up with that?

The creative staging out did itself by using ensemble singing existential angst gibberish during needless set changes.  There was  a scenes that found all seven cast members all shouting  different dialogue for what seemed as an eternity and there was a noisy scene change while Collins droned on with her “my life sucks” songs on her ukulele late in the show.

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We grow tired of this parody that makes its points effectively then keeps beating us up with its sheer redundancy. At  two hours and 15 minutes, it plays about 30 minute too long. I’d also cut some of the gimmicks and let the cast stay out of site when not on stage. Self awareness and breaking the fourth wall can be over kill.

Still, this ambitious show has its moments with several impressive scenes. Matt Fletcher’s Dev and Nina O’Keefe’s Nina were particularly note worthy. Chekhov’s traditionalists (like me) will find this show tedious, younger audiences will enjoy the parody and the creative interpretation of a classic drama. The energy and commitment from Sideshow Theatre Company is to be applauded.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: August 23, 2014

For more info checkout the Stupid Fucking Bird page at theatreinchicago.com

At Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theatre, 2433 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL.,  call 773-871-3000, www.sideshowtheatre.org, tickets $20 – $25, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through September 21, 2014