STUPID F***ING BIRD, Aaron Posner’s raucous riff on THE SEAGULL, (@ Apollinaire Theatre through April 26th) is especially delightful because we come to it fresh from the Huntington’s straight up version of the original. The two are so similar and yet not. For one thing, Posner has his characters detonating F-Bombs at every turn, as if David Mamet had visited him while he was writing. What makes his “adaptation” so bloody inviting is the permission he gives us to laugh at the pomposity of these self-important, self-deluded aristocrats.
Posner updates the whole rigmarole but he sticks to Chekhov’s plot and uses the same characters (all but one). The difference is that many of Posner’s characters are fully aware of their absurdity and possessing keen powers of observation, they let us in on, even demand we respond to their slant on the proceedings. It’s cheeky, darned clever and although it’s a wild send-up of the original, we’re fully engaged in the story. What’s more, as the travails are unfolding, we can’t wait to see where they’re going even though we think we know what will happen.
Posner supplies lots of surprises, like the musical flourishes (James Sugg’s wonderfully depressing songs) for poor, despairing Masha. (Emily Hecht is gloriously cranky in the role.) Brooks Reeves is hilarious as her hapless pursuer, the man who dreams of ice cream…and a sack of spoons. Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques has a crackerjack cast to make merry: Diego Buscaglia oozes torment as the tortured, “thwarted” playwright/ son of the great actress (Janine Frost in high dudgeon as the queen bee whose drone has been buzzing around another female).
Kevin Cirone swaggers mightily as the famous poet drawn to the impressionable, innocent young thing (Alana Osborn-Lief) while Jack Schultz clothes himself in world weariness as the hybrid uncle/doctor. You’ll be taken by David Reiffel’s ingenious sound design (from ironic snatches of vaudeville ditties to the loud intrusion of a clock), by Julie Dauber’s magnificent, sumptuous costumes for Frost, by Megan F. Kinneen’s dramatic set for the play within the play, but you’ll be amazed (and disturbed and amused and thrilled) by Fauteux-Jacques daring tableau that ends Act II. Don’t miss a moment of Apollinaire’s exceedingly smart STUPID F***KING BIRD.