Chekov in a Blender: STUPID FUCKING BIRD

Photo credit: Apollinaire Theatre

Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company
By Aaron Posner
Adapted by Chekhov’s The Seagull
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

March 28th – April 26th, 2014
Chelsea, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Chelsea) Merriam-Webster offers this definition of “mash-up”:
something created by combining elements from two or more sources: as
a :  a piece of music created by digitally overlaying an instrumental track with a vocal track from a different recording
b :  a movie or video having characters or situations from other sources
c :  a Web service or application that integrates data and functionalities from various online sources

You’ll notice that the good ol’ M-W doesn’t include theater in its definition, which means Apollinaire Theatre’s staging of “Stupid Fucking Bird” kind of groundbreaking.  Take a ponderous Russian classic,  “The Seagull”, make it all meta and silly, and you have this imaginative and unconventional play.  Mash-ups usually are 5 minutes long and viewed on YouTube; this play clocks in at a cool 2 hours and a half with a pair of intermissions. My friends, that’s a mash-up that shows some guts.

While decidedly Russian artist in its vibe, the plot essentially reads like an overlong “SNL” skit of No Exit, with tortured artists and the hired help all in love with the wrong people.  Luckily, this winsome cast goes full-tilt and breaks the fourth wall enough to keep things lively.  The action gets the most surreal when the actors begin to argue, with themselves, with the audience, why they’re even bothering to be on stage at all. The audience gets uncomfortable, like children stuck in a room when the parents are fighting.

Even with their best efforts, you get the feeling this play could have gone an even 60 minutes and left us wanting more. It’s almost as if award-winning  playwright Aaron Posner establishes that he could write a whole show of sidesplitting humor and satire if he wanted, but he would rather deconstruct theater to the point of challenging whether it should even exist.  It may not always be entertaining, but it certainly succeeds in being strange.

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