Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

Stupid Fucking BirdGives New Flight to Chekov
ACT Theatre

Review by David Edward Hughes


The Cast
Photo by Chris Bennion
Fessing up. I have seen very, very few productions Chekov, and the translations I have seen of The Cherry Orchard, The Three Sisters , and The Seagull have bored me to tears despite fine acting. Give me inspired by Chekov (The Good Doctor) and mocking (The film Love and Death) and I'm all in. Stupid Fucking Bird, by rising award-winning playwright Aaron Posner, sorta splits the difference, and it never once bored me. I found its twisting of old Anton rather charmingly off-kilter. Plus, who can zzzz out with this production skillfully directed by Jessica Kubzansky and starring some of our best hometown actors?

Kind, hopeful Dev (M.J. Sieber, solid as ever) suffers from an unrequited love for Mash (the vivid and hilarious Keiko Green) who composes witty yet despairing songs on the ukulele. Mash is desperately in love with Con (Adam Standley, the fastest rising young male talent in town), a passionate playwright who is deeply in love with Nina (Jasmine Jean Sim), his beautiful, vibrant muse, and childhood friend. Nina seems to love him back, until she becomes entranced by Trig, a literary star (essayed by Connor Toms, who happens to be savory in a very unsympathetic role). Con's mother Emma (the luminous Suzanne Bouchard) is a successful actress who is hopelessly commercial in the eyes of her son. Add in the wise old Dr. Sorn (effortlessly embodied by G. Valmont Thomas), a dead bird, a gun, and a little help from the audience, and Con might be able to win Nina's heart again ... or at least feed his own tentative, morbid creativity.

The whole company excels, including Miss Sim in a challenging role. Sieber's character is the most sympathetic; If you root for any of these troubled souls it's him. Standley amazes with his mercurial, energetic, and detailed performance. Green gives the play much of its humor as the flighty Mash, and Bouchard brings all her considerable charm, acidity, and depth to a role that might well have been written for her. Toms finally has aged out of boyish roles, and he makes a succulent scoundrel as Trig. Finally, G. Valmont Thomas, a mainstay again after years away from Seattle, is all you could ask for as the sage and philosophical Sorn.

The deceptively simple set by Martin Christoffel serves the play and director's vision well, the lighting design by Rick Paulsen is admirable, and Heidi Zamora's costumes perfectly encapsulate the actor's identities. Stupid Fucking Bird may well irritate Chekov purists, but for the rest of us less mad about the playwright, it is fresh, funny and disturbing. This seagull definitely lays no egg!

Stupid Fucking Bird runs through May 8, 2016, at ACT Theatre, 700 Union Street at 7th Ave in downtown Seattle. For more information, call 206-292-7676 or go to www.acttheatre.org .


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