Category Archive for: ‘Kedar K. Adour’

Stupid F**king Bird at SF Playhouse a meta-theatrical mash-up

Ensemble cast of Stupid F**cking Bird at SF Playhouse

STUPID F**KING BIRD: Drama by Aaron Posner. Sort of adapted from Chekhov’s The Seagull. Directed by Susi Damilano. San Francisco Playhouse, 490 Post Street (2nd Floor of Kensington Park Hotel,  San Francisco. (415) 677-9596. www.sfplayhouse.org. March 17 to May 2, 2015

Stupid F**king Bird at SF Playhouse a meta-theatrical mash-up Rating: ★★★☆☆

A former Professor of Drama at San Francisco State College began his playwriting class by displaying three posters for an upcoming play asking the students which of the three they would go to see. After selection by each member, it was hardly a universal selection; our professor announced that the posters displayed different names for the same play.

That brings up the well-known and oft repeated question, “What’s in a name. . ?” (Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)). Although it is a Shakespearean truism/question it is appropriate as reference to San Francisco Playhouse’s marvelously stage version of Aaron Posner’s revision/adaptation/rip-off of Chekhov’s masterpiece The Seagull. Four mature friends turned down an opportunity to attend opening performance after being told the title. Their decision may have been wise choices but they did miss a well-staged, marvelously acted ‘performance piece’. The raucous opening night audience did not enhance the show and I would suggest that alcohol not be allowed in the theater.

If you attend, it most probably will be available for half-price soon; being familiar with Chekhov’s The Seagull will enhance your ‘enjoyment’ of this two hour and 20 minute (including intermission) play.

It all begins with an obtuse play within the play written and directed by a main character Con (superb Adam Magill) with the ingénue Nina (Martha Brigham ) in the lead. Posner blatantly gives her lines glorifying the beauty and freedom of the soaring sea gulls that become a metaphysical force at the beginning, middle and end of the evening. Director Susi Damilino has Nina dressed in all white costume with gull like lace wings. Author and noted director Posner probably identifies with Con who in the penultimate scene asserts that there are no new art (playwriting) forms and we should be content with making the old ones better.

There is a bit of confusion about relationships early on in the play that are made mostly clear as the evening progresses. Time and place are not identified by Posner but it is the present in a country home (estate?) near a symbolic lake. The estate is owned (or rented?) by successful actress Emma (Carrie Paff) who is there with her lover Trig (Johnny Moreno) a semi-famous author.  Con is Emma’s son and Sorn (Charles Shaw Robinson), a doctor, is her older brother.  The backgrounds for Mash (El Beh) and Dev (Joseph Estlack) are not defined but if you know The Seagull you may surmise their lineage. It is the relationships that are cogent.

Con loves Nina who eventually loves Trig. Dev loves Mash who loves Con. There are extended passages about the meaning of love and art that are shared with the audience both in monologs and directing questioning by individuals and at times with the entire cast. It is a very effective directorial device but occasionally seems indulgent.

Director Damilano is to be commended for staging that is tender to offset the dramatic dynamics of the tangled relationships. Modern songs with irreverent lyrics by Posner are played on a ukulele by Mash throughout the evening. One wonders if having the character Sorn plaintively play clarinet is written into the script or is a brilliant Damilano conceit. She uses Bill English’s fantastic set that includes a lake-side pier with a single rope swing on stage right and a traditional swing on stage left to great advantage. The piece-de-resistance is the wooden home (dacha) on center stage that revolves to become a fully functional kitchen in the second act.

The cast performs brilliantly in individual scenes and are a dynamic force as an ensemble. Despite the title, there is much to like about this production but as heard on departing the theater, “You shouldn’t f—k with Chekhov.

CAST: El Beh (Mash), Martha Brigham ( Nina ), Joseph Estlack ( Dev ), Adam Magill (Con), Johnny Moreno (Trig), Carrie Paff ( Emma), Charles Shaw Robinson ( Sorn).

CREATIVE TEAAM: Abra Berman ( Costume Designer ), Susi Damilano ( Director ), Bill English ( Set Design ), Lauren English ( Casting Director); Tatjana Genser ( Production/Stage Manager ), Mark Hueske (Lighting Design), Maggie Koch ( Production Manager ), Steve Schoenbeck ( Sound Design ), Jacquelyn Scott ( Props Artisan ), Sarah Selig(  Production Assistant ), Zach Sigman ( Technical Theatre Manager),

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com

 

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