Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Stupid Fucking Bird
Also see Susan's review of Company
Director Howard Shalwitz and his seven actors embrace the playwright's vision of an all-encompassing form of theater that erases the fourth wall and, ultimately, the other walls as well. Con (Brad Koed), the fevered young artist at the heart of the drama, explicitly enters into dialogue with members of the audience at several points and tells the other inhabitants of the stage, "Of course we're in a play."
Since the action concerns Con's desire to create a "site-specific performance event"which another character describes as "kind of like a play, but not so stupid"the whole thing runs the risk of becoming overly precious. It isn't: viewers who know Chekhov's original will find some extra humor in Posner's deconstruction, but that knowledge isn't necessary to appreciate the work.
The dramatic conflict sets Con against his mother Emma (Kate Eastwood Norris), a movie star who sees her son's ambitions as a personal attack on her, and against Doyle (Cody Nickell), Emma's lover, a writer with more success than talent. Meanwhile, Con yearns for Nina (Katie deBuys), his muse and the performer in his play, while she is fascinated with Doyle and the wider world he represents. The other characters also have thwarted hopes and make compromises with life: a frustrated Goth who sings her feelings (Kimberly Gilbert), the sadly hopeful man who pursues her (Darius Pierce), and a philosophical doctor facing mortality (Rick Foucheux).
Shalwitz has managed to take the many disparate elements (Misha Kachman's set undergoes surprising transformations from one act to the next) and bring them together into a satisfying, ultimately moving, whole.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company