Review: ‘Stupid Fucking Bird’

Aaron Posner’s Chekhov-Based Comedy Gets a Fine New Production

Anne Torsiglieri and the cast of <em>Stupid Fucking Bird</em>

Rob Grayson

Anne Torsiglieri and the cast of Stupid Fucking Bird

Aaron Posner’s deliciously wicked deconstruction of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull makes an ideal fit for the talented members of Elements Theatre Collective in this must-see show. Employing a quiver full of sharp postmodern tactics, including direct address and a play-within-the-play, the show succeeds in bringing the angst and energy of Chekhov’s dark comedy to a new audience in all its bristling complexity. As directed by Risa Brainin, the show’s seven-member cast is consistently excellent, delivering memorable comic performances with plenty of emotional depth.

Nina (Tadja Enos) begins as the muse of Conrad (Steven Armstrong), a moody and insecure young playwright who dreams of transforming the theater. When Conrad’s mother, the famous actress Emma (Anne Torsiglieri) comes home with her lover, the great writer Trigorin (Brian Harwell), the older author wastes no time in seducing Nina, thus complicating an already difficult mother-son relationship, not to mention pushing Emma to new heights of self-dramatization. Onlookers Dev (Jason Bowe), Mash (Terry Li), and Sorn (Michael Bernard) have their own issues to sort out, and it’s not long before all the threads in this passionate social fabric are inextricably intertwined. There’s so much to praise about this production that it’s hard to know where to start, but see it especially for the wonderful way that these performers connect across the generation gap that serves as one of the play’s central themes. Bravo, Elements, for making such great theater available in so many venues, and for free. Visit elemenstc.org for details and reservations.

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