Note what letters are missing in Stupid F@#%ing Bird at the Playhouse. They substitute for those of the actual title, alerting you to forthcoming salty language and sexual situations in this much-lauded 2013 play by Aaron Posner. He takes off from what Anton Chekhov wrote 117 years-ago The Seagull.
The new play settles on ideas about theatre and its ambiguous relationship to actual life. You needn’t know the original, BTW, to get this sometimes funny, sometimes sorrowful exploration of art, love and revolution. Yet there is something Chekhovian about it. Da,Chekhov. You may think of his stuff as somber and sorrowful, but it might be well to recollect that he called many of his plays comedies, including The Seagull.
As an aspiring young director battles against the art created by his mother’s generation, a young actress competes with an aging Hollywood star for the affections of a renowned novelist suggesting the complexities of a Tom Stoppard opus in an interactive mixture of traditional theater and improvisation.
“Despite its modest ambitions and occasional glimmers of self-deprecation, (the play) offers unexpectedly authentic and affecting insights into love’s cruelties and the existential conundrums at the heart of Chekhov’s plays, said L.A. Weekly’s Steven Leigh Morris. And that this is “the most authentic, self-aware, playful, pathos-filled, unassuming and world-wise adaptation of Chekhov I’ve seen since Louis Malle’s 1992 film, Vanya on 42nd Street.”
Posner also adapted Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and The Three Sisters, the former called Life Sucks and the latter No Sisters. And he re-worked Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice as District Merchants.
Chekhov explored human foolishness as essentially comic. Some things never change.
Stupid F@#%ing Bird flies Oct.13-Nov. 12, Howard Drew Theatre, Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. Thurs.-Sat.: 7:30 p.m. Sun: 2 p.m. Tickets: $18 (students) or $24 plus.