Chekhov is supposed to have said that if an author hangs a gun on the wall at the beginning of a story he had better fire it to signal the end.
Aaron Posner's deliriously delicious dissembling and deconstructed version of Chekhov's The Seagull, Stupid Fucking Bird, demands someone say “start the fucking play” to signal the beginning.
Young theatre practitioner, Conrad, has devised a play called Here We Are, a sort of anti play that rails against the kind of theatre his mother, Emma, a renowned actress is famous for. He has cast his girlfriend, Nina, in the lead role.
Stupid Fucking Bird becomes an Oedipus contest, of sorts. Mum is an actress, girlfriend is an actress. Mum wears red pants, girlfriend wears red pants. Mum has a lover, girlfriend seduces lover, becomes the usurper.
Mansoor Noor ratchets up the angst as Conrad, a cock sure bantam petulant and pathetic, sorting out his mummy issues with arts end of the world rant, sea bird slaughter and suicidal tendencies, a self made albatross around the neck of the narrative. Lloyd Alison Young as his dove like friend Dev, is the calm and patient peace keeper, hopelessly in love with Mash, who, in turn is hopelessly in love with Conrad. Annie Stafford as Mash, plays the self conscious love lorn with a perfect, prickly performance, complete with ukulele accompaniment and pleasant singing, a canary in coal mine of unrequited love. Brendan Miles as Sorn is the benign budgie of the aviary, participant and observer, experienced in the agony and ecstasy of love, a sage of existential angst rather than a slave to it.
Megan Smart as Nina is at first a beautiful cygnet, a fledgling artist, attracted by the lure of the literati, fouling her love nest with Conrad emerges in the second act a swan, albeit a battered one, bearing the scars of her affair with Trigorin and an unabashed self appraised critique of her acting. Gil Balfas as Trigorin charms with a charismatic peacock presence, muted and gutted by too much worldliness, a Jack Sparrow strut and preen, a shadow of past vain glorious. Kaitlyn Thor as Emma is impressive, imposing and imperious, like a Roman legion eagle, an Aquila the Hun. They're all a little cuckoo, of course, love and lust, makes all of us so.
An arresting sound design by Ben Pierpoint and Mary Rapp complete with musical cues from Depeche Mode and The Clash underscores the action and the meta theatrics are assuaged by Veronique Benett's lighting design, eclectic costume design by Ellen Stanistreet and Jane Hughes, and the stage laid bare set design by Jeremy Allen.
Director Warwick Dodrell has given Stupid Fucking Bird full flight, a fully fledged theatrical experience.
'Twould be fucking stupid to miss it.
Stupid Fucking Bird plays New Theatre Newtown till July 28.
New Theatre presents
Stupid Fucking Bird
by Aaron Posner
Director Warwick Dodrell
Venue: New Theatre | 542 King Street Newtown NSW
Dates: 12 – 28 July 2018
Tickets: $35 – $30