Aaron Posner’s “Stupid Fucking Bird” transports Chekhov’s “The Seagull” into the 21st century with ukulele songs, expletives and plaid shirts.
The dramatist’s mostly cosmetic updates makes Chekhov’s angsty drama more approachable for modern audiences albeit in a thoroughly superficial way. There’s some good acting and a fluid mise en scene to SF Playhouse‘s current production directed by Susi Damilano. But I don’t think Posner’s version, which hews fairly closely to the original in terms of narrative — though bafflingly avoids the protagonist’s suicide — improves in any way upon Chekhov’s drama.
Yet the play is undeniably entertaining (which cannot always be said of Chekhov productions, especially since so many of them suck the humor dry.) And in one way in particular — its volatile breaking of the fourth wall — I was sucked in by the show.
Chekhov’s earlier plays, such as “The Seagull,” include things like asides. “The Seagull” even has one moment where a character steps completely out of the scene to talk directly to the audience. The effect is quite startling in an otherwise realistic set-up where characters speak amongst themselves without consulting with the audience.