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Sydney review - Stupid Fucking Bird: not feel-good but entertaining


Stupid Fucking Bird

By Aaron Posner

A New Theatre Production

Directed by Warwick Dodrell

New Theatre

542 King Street, Newtown

Season: July 12 – July 28. Bookings: newtheatre.org.au

The catchy and provocative title certainly caught my attention. And to my enjoyment, the play delivered a complex, amusing and sometimes depressing tale about art, love and relationships.

Stupid Fucking Bird, written by Aaron Posner is an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. A portrait of old Anton sits on the wall throughout the production, casting a watchful eye over this contemporary version of his nineteenth-century classic. I presume Director Warwick Dodrell has done this as a mark of respect to the Russian storyteller. It’s a nice touch and a salute to his role in inspiring this play.

The plot involves interwoven love lines between diverse characters which could rival a Bold and Beautiful episode. Conrad (Mansoor Nour) is a passionate young playwright eager to impress his successful actress mother Emma (Kaitlyn Thor). Conrad is blindingly in love with Nina (Megan Smart) who in turn, has become smitten with Trigorin (Gil Balfas), the renowned playwright and toyboy of Emma. And then there is Dev (Lloyd Allison-Young), Con’s friend and dreamer who is trying to win the heart of Mash (Annie Stafford), whose feelings are all towards Con. To balance all this is Eugene (Brendan Miles), Emma’s doctor husband who questions the purpose of his own life.

Confused? Well, it all works well on stage as these characters deal with age-old questions about artistic expression, commitment, devotion, disloyalty and the search for meaning.

The story moves between different locations such as the living room of Emma’s house to a seaside dock and then a kitchen scene, all done effortlessly and with precision with help from lighting and sound.

There are some interesting scenes such as love-making on a kitchen table between Emma and Trigoran in front of a ‘Tardis-like’ box with all the other characters squirming about in their own crazy world.

I liked the seamless transition from scene to scene using tables on wheels; the on-stage use of a water bottle to replicate the sound of waves on a beach; the humorous interaction with the audience; the musical interludes with ukulele; and the final character monologues about how their lives ended up.

One of the concepts in the play deals with the relative importance of things: “The 100-year test. Will it matter in 100 years time?” For Chekhov and The Seagull, they have passed the test. By extension, I suspect this play will pass as well. Time will tell.

Stupid Fucking Bird is an alternative play. The audience was eager to express its appreciation of the performance at the end, but the cast disappeared from stage without the usual crew acknowledgement and cast bowing. No doubt done for effect, but I felt a little bit robbed.

Congratulations to the Director, cast and crew. The play was professionally delivered with enthusiasm and creativity. This is not an uplifting, ‘feel-good’ play but it is an entertaining one. Well done.

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