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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Stupid Fucking Bird

Also see Susan's review of Company


Katie DeBuys, Cody Nickell, Kate Eastwood Norris and Rick Foucheux
Anton Chekhov's play The Seagull is a melancholy examination of artistic creation and the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between generations, sexes and individuals—and the playwright himself called it a comedy. Playwright Aaron Posner has gone one step further, reinventing Chekhov's classic for Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington—with the very Woolly title Stupid Fucking Bird.

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
Stupid Fucking Bird
May 27th - June 23rd
By Aaron Posner, sort of adapted from The Seagull by Anton Chekhov
Con: Bran Koed
Emma: Kate Eastwood Norris
Doyle: Cody Nickell
Nina: Katie deBuys
Sorn: Rick Foucheux
Mash: Kimberly Gilbert
Dev: Darius Pierce
Directed by Howard Shalwitz
641 D St. N.W., Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-393-3939 or www.woollymammoth.net


Photo: Stan Barouh


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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