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Theater Review: "Stupid F***ing Bird"

L to R: Ro Boddie, Rachel, Esther Tate
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

Ever notice that people don’t need help screwing up their lives because they can do it quite effectively themselves?

Chekhov did, and so did contemporary playwright Aaron Posner, who has taken the major characters in Chekhov’s “The Seagull” and given them modern ways of being and expressing their angst, loneliness, anger and annoyance with life, making them completely (pardon the expression) accessible to modern audiences.

You will recognize the depressed Mash (pronounced “mosh” like the pit, and hilariously played by Jacque Wilke), whose first line is “I’m in mourning. For my life,” and has penned a song about it that ends “Life is disappointing.”

One thing that disappoints her is solid-but-not-exciting Dev (Brian Rickel), Mash’s longtime friend and wannabe boyfriend, a tutor, who is clear (though not happy) about their relationship: “I love you ridiculously and you barely tolerate me.”

Mash has a thing about melancholy playwright Con (Ro Boddie); in fact she and Dev are just now waiting for one of Con’s site-specific performances (“kind of like a play,” explains Mash, “but not so stupid”). The title of this piece is “Here. We. Are.” (and yes, it is every bit as stupid as any play you’ve ever seen – gloriously, hilariously so).

Con wants a closer relationship with his leading lady Nina (Rachel Esther Tate), but she has her sights on Trig (Francis Gercke), a famous novelist and lover of Con’s mother, famous actress Emma (Karole Foreman). Tip: Watch Emma’s face as Con’s, er, performance progresses.

Then there’s Sorn (Walter Murray), Emma’s older brother, a physician who’s tired of being around sick people all the time and feels he’s missing something.

Got it? These are people we all have either known or been, muddling through as best they can and agonizing about love, how to get it, how to give it, how to recognize it and what to do about it. And mostly not succeeding.

Director Rob Lutfy gets the maximum giggle quotient from this terrific cast while making sure you know this is an “I’m doing this because I love you” rather than an “I’ll get you, you s.o.b.” approach to Chekhov.

Andrew Hull’s set reflects the lives of these folks – a small “stage” center, with white sheet backdrop, leaving the rest of the stage open and messy (just like everybody’s life), with stage “stuff” everywhere.

Foreman is a kick to watch as her old-school ideas about Theatre lock horns with Sonny’s “performance art” sensibility.

Gercke’s Trig goes with the romantic flow, spouting Chekhov’s question: “Will anyone care in 100 years?” That resonates with me; it’s what my father frequently said.

Murray is the best I’ve ever seen him as Sorn, a solid citizen who’s beginning to wonder if that’s all there is.

Tate’s Nina is the perfect star-eyed ingenue, who will move into something closer to insanity by the end.

Rickel is perfect, almost heartbreaking as good ol’ solid Dev, who will never be anybody’s first choice.

But it’s Boddie who bookends and holds this show together with his portrayal of the budding playwright/starving artiste.

Life (and especially love) are messy, but not often as much fun to watch as in “Stupid F***ing Bird.”

The details

“Stupid F***ing Bird” plays through June 19, 2016 at Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town.

Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 and 7 pm

Tickets: (619) 337-1525 or cygnettheatre.com