Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review of Sideshow Theatre Company's Stupid F##king Bird

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Stupid F##cking Bird. It was written by Aaron Posner; it was sort of adapted from The Seagull by Anton Chekhov. Jonathan L. Green was the director. It was about a man named Con (Nate Whelden) who was in love with a woman named Nina (Nina O'Keefe) but then a famous writer named Trigorin (Cody Proctor) moves in with Con's mother Emma (Stacy Stoltz), who is a famous actress. Nina falls in love with Trig and then Con gets very angry with him and kind of wants to kill him and also himself. Chekhov I think is a very good writer and some of his plays are funny, but The Seagull (1975) movie that I saw never made me laugh out loud. But SFB was hilarious even though everyone really feels horrible about themselves, except maybe Trig who basically loves himself. I think it was a great idea to make it more humorous because of the title and you don't want people to be depressed out of their minds because then they wouldn't be very happy afterwards. I think that this is an amazing show and I was laughing a lot of the time. It wasn't just a laugh your face off play either because you realize that love doesn't always go right and even if you think that you love somebody you could not be right. I really really loved this show and I think it is funny and sad at the same time, and I love that in a show.

I thought that the set (by Joe Schermoly) was great because it showed you that you were in a theater but you still felt like you were in the place that they said you were. At first it looked like a lake. The second time it looked like a kitchen. And then it looked like a porch, but then you still felt like you were in the theater because you saw the curtain in the back and the porch looked like it was on a roof or that it was a slanted stage.

It was cool how they mixed recorded music and live music and how the live music was played by Mash (Katy Carolina Collins) and Dev (Matt Fletcher). In the final section, they use their music to show what had happened over the last few years. Earlier the music was played by Mash and used as a distraction while they were making a big set change because they had to put down the entire wall and use it as another stage. I thought it was funny when basically we were all looking where she didn't want us to look and she said, "Eyes on me!" Because she keeps looking back to see where there are and is basically breaking her own rules and everyone is laughing. At the beginning of the play the music just shows how miserable Mash is because she is in love with Con. I liked how they didn't just make all the music sad and depressing; sometimes it was funny because the way she sings about how depressed she is is kind of funny. The songs that she writes are so weirdly depressing--the lyrics don't make much sense together. It is funny because she expresses it so openly and in such a gruff way. I thought that is was great that Mash and Dev got together in the end because I think that Mash was just too upset about how Con would never love her and Dev was a very nice person.

I liked it how Nina was in love with Trig basically from the start. In the other Seagull I saw she just liked his books at first. But in this one she immediately fell in love with him the second that she saw him. She is basically a step away from being engaged to Con and then that makes me really angry because she never thinks about how much she used to love him and how this is just a famous guy who snuck into their lives. But you don't hate Nina because she is basically too sweet to hate. Once she goes away with Trig she has a good life for like 2 years but then he gets tired of her and leaves. They have a kid but the kid dies and I thought that that was really sad because she was very happy and she remembers the little girl she used to have and suddenly she was gone. Con still loves Nina even though she did something really horrible to him. But he has loved her since she was young so he still loves her. It tells you that Con is a very persistent but loving person. But also he wants to be able to love himself again because when he was with Nina he felt better about himself and when Nina left he didn't know how to live with himself.

I thought that the crazy scene was different from the movie that I saw because it was actually more funny because she said stuff like, "Seagulls can't act" and she says stuff like, "That should be on a t-shirt." When I saw the movie I didn't really understand very much why she thought she was a seagull, but in this I understand more. It was like she felt like she had been shot like the seagull Con shot. And she felt like she used to be graceful like the live seagull but once Trig took her away she didn't feel so graceful anymore because he didn't treat her like she thought he would. So then she was like the dead seagull.

Emma is a great character to have because you have mixed emotions about her all the time. Like in the scene in the kitchen in the middle of the night when Con comes in and starts eating cheese, and she comes in and starts having an argument with him, you don't like her. But then she starts comforting him like a good mother and then you start to like her again. I think that it runs in the family to still love someone even after they have been super mean to you because Emma and Con both are still in love with Trig and Nina when they run away with each other. Still!

It was cool how Sorn (Norm Woodel) was the brother character mixed with the doctor because the doctor is a great character and so is the brother. I think having both characters would have been too much for this adaptation because of the way that this adaptation is built. This adaptation is built by having the play and then finding a way to make it again but make it the adaptor's own by making it funny and making you realize what the characters are really feeling. I think that it is hard for Sorin and Dorn to be in the same play because they both do the same thing in The Seagull. They are both old and not very helpful and talk about death and age a lot. They both give Con advice and try to keep his optimism up. I thought it was funny how Sorn put vodka in his power-up drink. I liked how he seemed sneaky about it like, no one can tell I put vodka in my health drink.

I liked the direct address in Chekhov for once in SFB. I don't usually like it because I don't like it when they are supposed to be talking to a character in the scene with them but instead they talk to the audience. I think they choose in some Chekhov productions to have the character talk to the audience because they want to over-push that the audience is really there. But then if you are the person in the scene with them you don't get to react to what the person is saying because they are not saying it to you. In SFB it was different because they talk to you at the same time as they talk to the other people on stage because they are all talking to you. I felt like they were really talking to the audience because Con asked for advice from the audience which most plays don't do. The play ends with everybody talking to the audience about what usually happens in the show, but then they say that won't happen this time. It is very suspenseful.

People who would like this show are people who like good direct address, live depressing-ish and funny music, and putting vodka in your health drink. I think people should definitely go see this show. The only people who shouldn't go are people who are not ok with swearing or making out. It is funny, sad, and it makes you realize what the characters in The Seagull are actually feeling. I really loved this show and I hope that everyone gets a chance to see it.

Photos: Jonathan L. Green

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