It’s not often that a play starts with a phrase like “Start the fucking play,” but “Stupid F**king Bird” is no ordinary play.
Cal Poly’s performance of “Stupid F**king Bird” puts the audience in the spotlight like never before. The play, written by Aaron Posney, seats the audience directly on the stage for an up-close and personal portrayal of life in all its arduous glory. The play features a dynamic cast of seven characters, each of whom the audience gets to know layer by layer throughout the play. The range of emotions, from humor to rage to envy to sadness, will keep you on your toes — as life does.
The adaptation of the 19th-century Russian tragi-comedy “Seagull” by Anton Chekhov follows tortured aspiring playwright Conrad (Daniel Cook), as he hopes to write new, innovative scripts that differ from the plays of the prior generation. Conrad’s girlfriend, aspiring actor Nina (Meghan Hornbacker), contrasts his cynicism with a blissful hope for life. Happy-go-lucky Dev (Aidan Turner) loves Mash (Maddie Pomaro), whose bleak view of her life matches Conrad’s, explaining her painful, unrequited love for him. Relationship dynamics turn on their heads when Conrad’s mother Emma (Annika Borg-Sundstrom) and her lover, acclaimed writer Doyle Trigorin (Garrett Lamoureux), come to town. All the while, unassuming Dr. Eugene Sorn (Antonio Mata) finds himself stuck in the middle of the angst.
The onstage seating surrounding the set invites the audience to be a part of the play. You can’t help but feel immersed. The audience participation is apparent in more ways than one. Actors often interrupt their dialogue to speak to the audience, even breaking the fourth wall to address their own positions as actors in the play. This is one of the many ways the play seems to make fun of itself.
While the audience may find themselves entangled in a trap of love triangles, they’ll also quickly learn “Stupid F**king Bird” isn’t a love story. The slice-of-life script makes for raw, relatable, heart-wrenching character dynamics. Cook’s performance of Conrad’s passionate monologues leaves the audience hanging on his every last word. Conrad’s strained relationship with his mother brings audience laughs in one scene and eerie silence in
The script’s overt gloom is coupled with a self-aware humor that keeps you laughing throughout. The play depicts the human experience and all of its emotional struggles. Yet, the play’s comedic twist is a reminder that while suffering is a universal human experience, so is humor. Both are parts of life.
While slow to start, the cast of “Stupid F**king Bird” creates meaningful, dynamic characters who resonate with the audience as they develop. A beautiful script coupled with a stellar cast made this play unforgettable.
A perfect venue for laughs and perhaps tears, “Stupid F**king Bird” runs for another weekend in Alex and Faye Spanos Theatere May 18 to 20 at 8 p.m.