‘Stupid Fucking Bird’ is Pretty Fucking Genius

This post will not continue until someone says, “Start writing the fucking post.”

Similarly — not exactly, however — this is how Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird begins. At Syracuse Stage‘s Friday Jan. 22 evening performance, Conrad, who proves successfully to be the stand-out character and focus of the story — trust me, there is a battle for focus among the characters (and if there truly is not, well, the actors are great and prove it) — kicks off the performance with addressing the audience: “The play will begin when someone says: ‘Start the fucking play.'”

“Life is a muddle, life is a chore, life is a burden, life is a bored.
This apple is rotten right down to its core.
Life… is disappointing.

[To the audience:] Shut up!”

– Mash

Photo by Christopher Malone

Scene: “I Want.” | Photo by Christopher Malone

The modern adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull is nothing short of ambitious and cunning. It’s crass and abrasive nature is beautiful, and the scorn and tormented (self-inflicted) characters are apologetically honest. The seven characters are self-deprecating, striving for the desirable happiness/love that can only be found in literature, but they’re struggling and somewhat in denial and confused in regard to whether or not they themselves are real.

However, the characters — some more than others — reveal omniscience. Unless the characters believe they are talking to themselves internally, but are actually speaking aloud with the belief their utterances cannot be heard. The latter is believable when considering the damaged personalities on-stage.

There is a lot to be acknowledged in the literary and performance senses. The play is filled with monologues, soliloquies, asides and breaking the fourth wall. The comedy, sometimes unintentional — yet it was written that way — was on-point and darkly uplifting. The context of Stupid Fucking Bird is fucking rich, and its emphasized value is dialogue, character and ego-driven. There is a plot, of course, but it takes a backseat.

The seven at one point accept their inevitable deaths — another effort to bring the audience down — foreshadowing, and this again draws into question whether these characters are real or fictitious. As alluded to before: The characters know they are in a play.

Wait. What?

Con walks over to the picture of Chekhov at one point, thanks him — if it wasn’t for himthey would not be here. Con gives the dead author the finger and says, “Fuck you.”

What exactly is going on?

“Here we are.

This is real, this is true,
This is new, this is now…

Are you here? A simple question. Are you here with me, with we, now?

A place and a moment So patently un-true It just might be new. So different in feel It might be realer than real.”

– Nina

There are many situations where the characters question their existence, their ability to function and their disbelief of damage. Many come to terms with their human nature by the end of the play, but not all of them do. As many times as they reveal themselves to be fucked up, point out how the other is fucked up and lament how fucked up the present scene/real life moment is unfolding.

The love triangles are definitely dramatic catalysts. When it comes to love and confessing love, despite how in-tune the seven are to everything else, they’re clueless. Even the pot shots and in-conversation reveals, the bits of knowledge is misheard and flies well over their heads.

Love is at the core of it all — this play and reality.

 

Conrad & Dev: Love is awful.

Nina & Mash: Love is absurd.

All four: Love is so fucking unfair!

 

Love, like many themes or motifs, is ever present, infinite and indestructible. Love — having or desiring it — will always be present.

What would the adaptation have been like if there was a social media component? The outlets and apps, save the like buttons and shares and comments, are all about love — a stranger, less personable and less important kind of love. Having too much or not enough (without reason) drives us bonkers. Undeniably, we all have egos.

Hence, my opinion about the characters’ interpersonal battle with each other.

At one point Conrad and Dev are talking about Nina, and the former emphasizes his relationship with her, their lack of one, his jealousy and delusion; all this adds up to his losing his mind. Con says Nina is literally driving him insane. Dev questions the literally, and his love sickness-stricken friend says, “All right, figuratively … No, literally.”

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Source: Syracuse Stage, syracusestage.org

After recently reading The Four Agreements stresses the fact that concern over others will bring you down. A person has to pursue their passions, focus on making oneself better and succeeding. Success, personal with an intangible or monetary gain, yields happiness. Yes, this does come down to ego, but what doesn’t?

As the saying goes, a person has to begin with loving oneself before anything else, and any obstacle or negative feeling is purely human.

Stupid Fucking Bird is definitely fucking genius, and props do go to Posner. Props also have to go to the cast: Katie deBuys, Rick Foucheux, Kimberly Gilbert, Ian Holcomb, Cody Nickell, Kate Eastwood Norris, and Darius Pierce. They did a spectacular job. Their character work and line deliveries made the performance as spectacularly hilarious as it was intended.

Although I’m not a stage actor, it was inspiring for improv. The performances served as hearty reminders to be and make bold choices, to use the stage and use, err, generate objects from thin air. The focus of improv, and life for that matter, are relationships; the relationships on stage — a big yes.

I’d definitely go see this again in a heartbeat.

The show runs until Feb. 7, and tickets can be purchased online or by calling (315) 443-3275

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