Stupid F*cking Bird updates Anton Chekov’s The Seagull in a modern and masterful way.
Starneslord, Carol the Cat and I were thrilled to attend the opening night of Stupid F*cking Bird, the current production of Actors Theatre of Charlotte, directed by Chip Decker. The play is written by Aaron Posner, and is “sort of adapted” from The Seagull by Anton Chekhov.
My high school reading of The Seagull was fuzzy at best (non-existent at worst), so I walked in to the Hadley Theater with no prior expectations. The set design was an immediate delight. Artistic Director Chip Decker jokingly welcomed everyone to “the next stop on their tour of theaters in Charlotte” as they are still working on getting all the required permits and construction done for their new home on Freedom Drive. So the fact that they were able to create such a visually stunning yet simple set on a borrowed stage was impressive. And the scene transitions were just pristine, especially for the final scene.
There was humor, although this was not a comedy. There was song, although this was not a musical. And there was skipping back and forth across the 4th wall – but not to the point where you found yourself looking for brick and mortar to rebuild it.
Each of the cast members brought something unique to the stage. Jeremy DeCarlos was the ATC veteran, having appeared previously in last year’s Toxic Avenger and just recently in BootyCandy, among several others. His quiet self-awareness made him the everyman you easily connect to. Carmen R. Lawrence played his Daria-like equal and her musical style reminded me of Zooey Deschanel. Becca Worthington was the actor’s actor – so thoroughly embracing her character that you forget she’s acting because she just is. Where you simply accept who Worthington is, you may find yourself wondering who Rob Addison reminds you of – seeing subtle glimpses of Christopher Lloyd, Kevin Pollak, and the gravelly gravitas of Brian Doyle-Murray. Scott A. Miller was a realistic world-worn Trigorin – reminding you of the jaded but cool academic young ingenues fall for. And Mariana Bracciale embraced that ingenue role enthusiastically – tracking her Ophelia-like descent with a vengeance. Chester Shepherd has the lead as Conrad Arkadina, switching back and forth between actor and interactor – engaging the audience both with his characterization of the pivotal role and rolling the dice with answers shouted back to him by the audience and countering with improvised replies.
This play, like life, is like a roller coaster. There are highs and lows, laughter and tears. Each evening promises to provide a differing experience as the actors feed from the crowd and the crowd feeds from the play. (Or drinks from it – there is a lot of drinking like any good Russian play). And like life, and roller coasters, it is not recommended for small children. There is brief nudity and not so brief language. The title alone should convince you of that.
But it is recommended for adults of all ages. Whether you seek a new take on a seminal Russian play, or an interesting adventure for an evening – go see Stupid F*cking Bird. Running now through April 15th.
Stupid F*cking Bird is written by Aaron Posner and presented by The Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte. Chip Decker directs, Haley A. Phillips is the stage manager, Hallie Gray designed the lighting, and Chip Decker created the set & sound design. Carrie Cranford outdid herself as the costumes & prop designer, and Mike Snow is the technical director. Original Music is by James Sugg.
For tickets, click here.
To listen to the Guardians of the Geekery 17-minute opening night interview with the entire cast and director, listen below.